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CPT Code 20610 | Arthrocentesis Without Ultrasound Guidance

CPT code 20610 describes an arthrocentesis procedure in which the provider inserts a needle into a major joint or bursa for aspiration or injection without ultrasound guidance.

What Is CPT Code 20610?

CPT 20610 describes a procedure known as arthrocentesis. This procedure involves the insertion of a needle into a major joint or bursa (such as the shoulder, hip, or knee) for aspiration (removal of fluid) and/or injection (introduction of a medication or other substance).

Arthrocentesis may be performed for diagnostic purposes (to examine the fluid removed from the joint or bursa) or for therapeutic purposes (to treat a condition or provide relief of symptoms).


The CPT book describes CPT code 20610 as: “Arthrocentesis, aspiration and/or injection, major joint or bursa (e.g., shoulder, hip, knee, subacromial bursa); without ultrasound guidance.”


The patient must first be adequately prepared and anesthetized so the provider can perform an aspiration or injection procedure (arthrocentesis) on a major joint or bursa without ultrasound guidance, 

Then, the provider will insert a needle through the skin and into the targeted joint or bursa.

Using a syringe attached to the needle, the provider will draw out fluid from the joint or bursa for laboratory examination.

In some cases, the provider may inject medication such as a pharmacotherapy or lavage agent into the joint or bursa for therapeutic purposes.

After the 20610 procedure is completed, the provider will remove the needle and apply pressure to stop any bleeding.

How To Use CPT 20610

CPT 20610 should only be billed when it is performed without the use of ultrasound guidance.

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