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J Emerg Med. 2006 Apr;30(3):331-9.

Synovial fluid analysis.

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University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA.


AsA prompt and accurate diagnosis of a painful, swollen joint is imperative, primarily in the case of a septic joint, as delayed therapy may result in progression of disease or permanent loss of function. Procurement and analysis of synovial fluid (SF) are paramount in helping the clinician to determine a patient's clinical condition and further course of treatment. Measurement of white blood cell (WBC) counts, crystal analysis by polarized microscopy, and microbiologic studies including Gram stain and culture are the SF parameters that are collectively most important in the ultimate determination by a clinician of the presence or absence of an infectious or inflammatory joint. It is important for the clinician to understand and recognize the limitations of various SF parameters to minimize under-treating patients with potentially serious joint pathology.

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