Hands-On Lightly Embalmed Cadaver Lab for Teaching Knee Aspiration/Injection

Publication ID Published Volume
9187 July 2, 2012 8


This resource is a lab guide for student training and assessment of knee aspirations/injections using lightly embalmed cadavers as a “simulated patient”. Knee aspirations and injections are commonly performed clinical skills. However, due to time constraints, the variability of clinical rotations, and the types of patients seen, students may or may not be exposed to all of the clinical skills including knee aspirations/injections in which adequate training is needed. Lightly embalmed cadavers serve as an optimal “simulated patient” for a variety of reasons including: tissues are similar to living tissue in color, texture and elasticity; real anatomical landmarks are encountered and used to perform the clinical skill; and the use of the cadaver reduces anxiety about safety issues. To reduce the variability of, and potential inadequate training in knee aspirations/injections, this module was developed.

The module includes a lab guide describing lightly embalmed cadavers, descriptions for preparing a lightly embalmed cadaver knee joint for aspiration and injection, and a lab training session for students. A checklist and post-test for assessment of competency and knowledge complete the lab guide.

There are also two presentations, including videos of how to prepare a lightly embalmed cadaver for knee aspiration/injection and a tutorial addressing the indications, contraindications, complications, anatomy, equipment and the procedure for performing knee aspirations/injections.

This lab has been taught to the University of Nebraska Medical Center senior physician assistant students since 2009, and it has also been offered as part of a continuing medical education course at the Nebraska Association of Physician Assistant 36th annual spring meeting. Both students and licensed physician assistants have reported positive feedback from the experience. Preliminary data collected from the physician assistant students indicates improved technique and better retention for performing knee aspirations and injections.


Keim Janssen S, VanderMeulen S, Brown D. Hands-on lightly embalmed cadaver lab for teaching knee aspiration/injection. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2012;8:9187. http://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9187

Contains time-sensitive information that will likely be inaccurate, obsolete, or irrelevant by June 13, 2015

Educational Objectives

  1. To describe the anatomic structure of the knee emphasizing key landmarks for performing knee aspirations/injections.
  2. To describe the indications and contraindications to perform a knee injection.
  3. To review the technique for performing a knee aspiration/injection.
  4. To demonstrate the correct steps to perform a knee aspiration/injection.


  • Gross Anatomy, Knee Injection, Knee Aspiration, Knee Arthrocentesis, Lightly Embalmed Cadaver, Cadaver, Knee Anatomy, Patient Simulation


Poster presentation on this lab at the 27th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, Honolulu, HI. July 2010.

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ISSN 2374-8265