Blind Ankle Injection: 1 in 4 Times a Physician isn’t Really Injecting the Ankle Joint

ankle injection

Have you had a blind ankle injection? I’ve blogged a few times on the fact that blind injections (injections without some form of guidance like fluoroscopy or ultrasound) have significant miss rates. In other words, the doctor thinks he’s injecting something inside the knee or ankle joint, but he’s missed the joint capsule (inside of the joint) and instead injected it outside the joint. For stem cells, this would be a big deal, as for these cells to help arthritis they would need to be injected inside the joint. A new study just published confirms what we already knew, which is that for an ankle injection where the patient has arthritis, a physician not using guidance (a blind injection) misses the ankle joint about 1 in 4 times! Ouch! In addition, that’s when the pressure is on in a formal study, the actual clinical day to day miss rate is likely much higher (I’d say 50% or more from my experience confirming these injections with x-ray or ultrasound in patients with ankle arthritis). We’ve always used guidance and consider it a standard of care for all joint injections-whether they be stem cells, platelet rich plasma, or gels. The upshot? Don’t allow the blind to lead the blind. Make sure your next ankle joint injection is with guidance or go elsewhere!

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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