Synovial fluid analysis
Synovial fluid analysis is a group of tests that examine joint (synovial) fluid. The tests help diagnose and treat joint-related problems.
Joint fluid analysis; Joint fluid aspiration
How the test is performed
A sample of synovial fluid is needed for this test. Synovial fluid is normally a thick, straw-colored liquid found in small amounts in joints, bursae, and tendon sheaths.
After the area is cleaned, the health care provider will insert a sterile needle through the skin and into the joint space. Once in the joint, fluid is drawn through the needle into a sterile syringe.
The fluid sample is sent to the laboratory. The laboratory technician will check the sample's color and clarity, and then place it under a microscope to check it for red and white blood cells, crystals (in the case of gout), and bacteria. In addition, there may be a chemical analysis, and if infection is a concern, a sample will be cultured to see if any bacteria grow.
How to prepare for the test
Normally, no special preparation is necessary, but contact your health care provider before the test to make sure. Tell your doctor if you are taking blood thinners, as they can affect test results.
How the test will feel
Occasionally, the health care provider will first inject local anesthesia with a small needle, which will sting. The aspiration is done with a larger needle and may also cause some pain. The procedure usually lasts less than one minute.
Why the test is performed
The test can help diagnose the cause of pain or swelling in joints. Removing the fluid can also help relieve joint pain.
This test may be used to diagnose:
- Other inflammatory joint conditions
- Joint injury
What abnormal results mean
Abnormal joint fluid may look cloudy or abnormally thick.
Blood in the joint fluid may be a sign of injury inside the joint or a body-wide bleeding problem. An excess amount of normal synovial fluid can also be a sign of osteoarthritis.
What the risks are
- Infection of the joint -- unusual but more common with repeated aspirations
- Bleeding into the joint space
Ice or cold packs may be applied to the joint for 24 to 36 hours after the test to reduce the swelling and joint pain. Depending on the exact problem, you can probably resume your normal activities after the procedure. Talk to your health care provider to determine what activity is most appropriate for you.
Knight JA, Kjeldsberg CR. Cerebrospinal, synovial, and serous body fluids. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006:chap 28.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. ©1997-2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Is Your Pain Caused By Structural or Muscular Abnormalities?
How to Properly Treat Tennis Elbow
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Think Muscle Not Nerve
How to Remedy Trigger Finger
Pain Medication Addiction: Have You Crossed the Line?
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.