Where and how to inject the knee--a systematic review

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2013 Oct;43(2):195-203. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2013.04.010.


Objectives: The knee can be injected at different anatomic sites with or without image-guidance. We undertook a systematic review to determine the accuracy of intra-articular knee injection (IAKI) and whether this varied by site, use of image-guidance, and experience of injectors, and whether accuracy of injection, site, or use of image-guidance influenced outcomes following IAKIs.

Methods: Medline, Embase, AMED, CINAHL, Web of Knowledge, Cochrane Central Registers for Controlled Trials up to Dec 2012 were searched for studies that evaluated either accuracy of IAKIs or outcomes related to accuracy, knee injection sites, or use of image-guidance. Within-study and between-study analyses were performed.

Results: Data from 23 publications were included. Within-study analyses suggested IAKIs at the superomedial patellar, medial midpatellar (MMP), superolateral patellar (SLP) and lateral suprapatellar bursae sites were more accurate when using image-guidance than when blinded (ranges of pooled risk difference 0.09-0.19). Pooling data across studies suggested blinded IAKIs at the SLP site were most accurate (87%) while MMP (64%) and anterolateral joint line (ALJL) sites were (70%) least accurate. Overall about one in five blinded IAKIs were inaccurate. There was some evidence that experience of the injector was linked with improved accuracy for blinded though not image-guided injections. Based on a small number of studies, short but not longer-term outcomes for ultrasound-guided were found to be superior to blinded IAKIs.

Conclusions: Image-guided IAKIs are modestly more accurate than blinded IAKIs especially at the MMP and ALJL sites. Blinded injections at SLP site had good accuracy especially if performed by experienced injectors. Further studies are required to address the question whether accurate localization is linked with an improved response.

Keywords: Accuracy; Aspiration; Clinical trials; Injection; Osteoarthritis of the knee; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / drug therapy*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*