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Joint aspiration
Joint aspiration


Definition:

Joint fluid culture is a laboratory test to detect infection-causing organisms in a sample of fluid surrounding a joint.



Alternative Names:

Joint fluid culture



How the test is performed:

A sample of joint fluid is needed. This may be done in a doctor's office using a needle, or during an operating room procedure. For more information on this procedure, see joint fluid aspiration .

The fluid sample is sent to a laboratory where it is placed in a special dish and watched to see if bacteria, fungi, or viruses grow. This is called a culture.

If such microorganisms are detected, other tests may be done to further identify the infection-causing substance and determine the best treatment.



How to prepare for the test:

There is no special preparation needed for the lab culture. For information on preparing for the removal of joint fluid, see joint fluid aspiration .



How the test will feel:

The joint fluid culture is done in a laboratory and does not involve the patient.

For information on how the procedure to remove joint fluid feels, see joint fluid aspiration .



Why the test is performed:

Your doctor may order this test if you have unexplained pain and inflammation of a joint or a suspected joint infection.



Normal Values:

The test result is considered normal if no organisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses) grow in the laboratory dish.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.



What abnormal results mean:

Abnormal results are a sign of infection in the joint. Infections may include:



What the risks are:

There are no risks to the patient associated with a lab culture. For risks related to the removal of joint fluid, see joint fluid aspiration .




Review Date: 12/3/2007
Reviewed By: D. Scott Smith, M.D., MSc, DTM&H, Chief of Infectious Disease & Geographic Medicine, Kaiser Redwood City, CA & Adjunct Assistant Professor, Stanford University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100