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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this procedure and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the procedure and how you can help.
A joint is a part in the body where the bones connect to allow bending and movement, such as the knee, elbow, hip, backbone (spine) and skull. Sometimes fluid can form in the joints and cause pain. Joint aspiration (as-per-RAY-shun) is a procedure in which fluid—called synovial (sin-OH-vee-ul) fluid—is removed from the joint or joints where your child has pain. Depending upon your child’s medical condition, your doctor may order a joint injection at the same time as the joint aspiration. Joint injection is a procedure in which medicine (such as a steroid) is injected directly into the joint space. The medicine also should help to reduce your child’s pain. Sometimes the medicine will include contrast (or dye) for arthrography (study of the joints) or magnetic resonance arthrography.
If your child is having sedation, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the procedure.
The joint aspiration or injection is performed in the Interventional Radiology suite at the Department of Pediatric Radiology of Children’s Hospital. In the Interventional Radiology suite will be a pediatric interventional radiology doctor, who will perform your child’s procedure. Pediatric interventional radiologists are doctors who specialize in performing minimally invasive procedures using images or pictures—such as X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds—to guide them. Pediatric radiology technologists and nurses will help the doctor.
Before the joint aspiration or joint injection begins, a nurse or technologist will use an antiseptic (germ-free) solution to clean the skin in the area where the joint will be treated. Your child will be given numbing medicine through a needle in the area around where the aspiration or injection will take place to help reduce pain. When the numbing medicine is injected, your child might experience a pinch and a brief burning feeling.
The pediatric interventional radiology doctor will use either fluoroscopy (X-rays), a CT scan or ultrasound to perform the procedure. The images will allow the doctor to see exactly where in the joint your child has fluid or pain. The doctor then will insert a needle into the joint to draw out the fluid. If your child is not receiving a joint injection, the needle will be taken out after the fluid is removed. If your child also is getting a joint injection, the needle will stay in place so the doctor can inject medicine into the joint area.
Once your child’s procedure is complete, a technologist will clean the skin area and then bandage it. You and your child then will be able to go home. The bandage may be removed the following day. Your child should not use the joint other than as necessary for 2 days (48 hours) after the procedure.
If your child needed sedation medication, he or she will have to stay in the Interventional Radiology suite or a recovery area for at least 30 minutes afterward to be monitored before being discharged.
As a parent, you may have concerns about radiation exposure. Children’s Hospital takes every precaution to make sure your child is safe.
We welcome your help and support before and after the joint aspiration or injection. The most important role of a parent or guardian is to help your child stay calm and relaxed before the procedure.
After the joint aspiration or injection, your child may be sore in the area of the aspiration or injection. Your child should not be active for 48 hours.
The following symptoms may be cause for concern after the procedure:
If your child has either of these symptoms, you should call your child’s primary care physician (PCP) immediately.
You will need to make an appointment with a doctor in the Rheumatology Department 1 month after your child’s procedure by calling 412-692-5081.
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s before the procedure and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs your child might have.
Preparing your child beforehand, as well as comforting your child during the procedure, will help your child have a more positive experience. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to explain procedures to children. If you have any questions about ways to prepare or support your child or feel your child will have difficulty during the procedure, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s and ask to speak with the Child Life Specialist.
Department of Pediatric Radiology
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Drive
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
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