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Accuracy of ultrasound-guided intra-articular injections in guinea pig knees



Dunkin Hartley guinea pigs, a commonly used animal model of osteoarthritis, were used to determine if high frequency ultrasound can ensure intra-articular injections are accurately positioned in the knee joint.


A high-resolution small animal ultrasound system with a 40 MHz transducer was used for image-guided injections. A total of 36 guinea pigs were anaesthetised with isoflurane and placed on a heated stage. Sterile needles were inserted directly into the knee joint medially, while the transducer was placed on the lateral surface, allowing the femur, tibia and fat pad to be visualised in the images. B-mode cine loops were acquired during 100 µl. We assessed our ability to visualise 1) important anatomical landmarks, 2) the needle and 3) anatomical changes due to the injection.


From the ultrasound images, we were able to visualise clearly the movement of anatomical landmarks in 75% of the injections. The majority of these showed separation of the fat pad (67.1%), suggesting the injections were correctly delivered in the joint space. We also observed dorsal joint expansion (23%) and patellar tendon movement (10%) in a smaller subset of injections.


The results demonstrate that this image-guided technique can be used to visualise the location of an intra-articular injection in the joints of guinea pigs. Future studies using an ultrasound-guided approach could help improve the injection accuracy in a variety of anatomical locations and animal models, in the hope of developing anti-arthritic therapies. Cite this article: Bone Joint Res 2015;4:1-5.

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