A joint, soft tissue or bursal injection is a very common procedure. The procedure involves drainage of fluid and/or an injection of local anaesthetic and/or steroid into and around the relevant area -‐ this may be soft tissue, a bursa (sac of fluid near a joint) or joint (eg. facet, costovertebral, etc.).
Joints are injected using image guidance, mostly through the use of ultrasound, however some procedures are done using CT guidance. The main reason for joint injections is to deliver steroids directly to the affected area and alleviate symptoms of pain and inflammation -‐ some examinations also require X-‐ray dye (iodine) to be injected into the area, and this is referred to as an Arthrogram. Arthrograms are used to help demonstrate the joint under examination, thus providing information that is unable to be visualised with a normal scan.
What happens during my joint or soft tissue injection?
There is no specific preparation and you may eat and drink as normal before the procedure. If you take Warfarin, Aspirin, Plavix, or other blood thinning agents, please notify the booking staff as you may be required to cease the medication, or have blood tests prior to the procedure.
The procedure takes about 20 minutes and will be performed in the ultrasound or CT room. The skin around the injection site will be cleaned with antiseptic solution and a local anaesthetic will then be injected with a thin needle, which may sting briefly. The Specialist will then inject the soft tissue/bursa/joint with the aid of ultrasound or CT to ensure the needle is perfectly positioned. You may feel some localised pressure or discomfort during the injection.
Pain relief may take a few days to develop so you may need to continue with your normal medication for at least 48 hours. You can return to normal activities although we ask that you avoid strenuous physical activity.
Risks and Side Effects
Complications are uncommon during these procedures, however, you need to be informed of the possible side effects and associated risks.
▪ Pain, bruising, temporary numbness, tingling or discomfort at the injection site
▪ Infection is very rare but may involve redness or swelling and increasing pain after 48 hours. Increasing pain should be promptly reported to us and your referring doctor
▪ Risks associated with the X-‐ray dye can include allergic reaction such as rash or mild nausea. More severe reactions may result in shortness of breath or facial swelling. Very severe, life-‐threatening reactions are extremely rare.
▪ If you have had a spinal injection, there is a minute possibility that the needle could come into contact with your lung, causing it to collapse and leak air (pneumothorax). This is usually small requiring only observation. Rarely, you will be required to be admitted to hospital to have a tube inserted to re-‐inflate the lung.
▪ Any medical procedure potentially can be associated with unpredictable risks.
Do not hesitate to contact our office on 6382 3888 if you have any questions or concerns.