OBJECTIVE: The aim of this prospective study was to find if a complete synovial fluid aspiration before injecting intra-articular corticosteroids influences the treatment result. METHODS: The study was performed in 147 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One hundred and ninety one knees with synovitis were randomised to arthrocentesis (n=95) or no arthrocentesis (n = 96) before 20 mg triamcinolone hexacetonide was injected. The duration of effect was followed up for a period of six months. All patients were instructed to contact the rheumatology department if signs and symptoms from the treated knee recurred. If arthritis could be confirmed by a clinical examination a relapse was noted. RESULTS: There was a significant reduction of relapse in the arthrocentesis group (p = 0.001). CONCLUSION: The study shows that aspiration of synovial fluid can reduce the risk for arthritis relapse when treating RA patients with intra-articular corticosteroids. It is concluded that arthrocentesis shall be included in the intra-articular corticosteroid injection procedure.
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