Original Publication
Open Access

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

Published: July 2, 2012 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9187

Included in this publication:

  • Instructor's Guide Preparing the Lightly Embalmed Cadaver for Knee Joint Aspiration.pptx
  • Instructor's Guide.pdf
  • Lightly Embalmed Cadaver Lab Guide for Teaching Knee Aspiration and Injection.docx
  • Narrative Student tutorial on knee aspirations and injections.pptx
  • Student tutorial on knee aspirations and injections.pptx

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: This resource is a clinical skill module for student training and assessment of knee aspirations/injections using lightly embalmed cadavers as a sort of simulated patient. Knee aspirations/injections are commonly performed clinical skills. However, due to time constraints, variability of clinical rotations, and types of patients seen, students may or may not be exposed to all the clinical skills, including knee aspirations/injections, in which adequate training is needed. Methods: This module includes a lab guide describing lightly embalmed cadavers, instructions for preparing a lightly embalmed cadaver knee joint for aspiration/injection, and a lab training session for students. A checklist and posttest for assessment of competency and knowledge complete the lab guide. The module also features also two PowerPoint presentations, one of which uses videos and notes on how to prepare a lightly embalmed cadaver for knee aspiration/injection and the other of which is a tutorial addressing indications, contraindications, complications, anatomy, equipment, and procedure for performing knee aspirations/injections. Results: This lab has been taught to University of Nebraska Medical Center senior physician assistant (PA) students since 2009; 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 PA students and licensed PAs reported positive feedback from the experience. Preliminary data collected from the PA students indicated improved technique and better retention for performing knee aspirations/injections. Discussion: Lightly embalmed cadavers can serve as an optimal model with which to practice clinical skills for a variety of reasons:  Their 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. This module was developed to reduce the variability of and potential inadequate training in knee aspirations/injections.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this resource, learners will be able to:

  1. Describe the anatomic structure of the knee, emphasizing key landmarks for performing knee aspirations/injections.
  2. Describe the indications and contraindications to perform a knee injection.
  3. Review the technique for performing a knee aspiration/injection.
  4. Demonstrate the correct steps to perform a knee aspiration/injection.

Author Information

  • Sarah Keim Janssen, PhD: University of Nebraska College of Medicine
  • Stephane P. VanderMeulen, MPAS, PA-C: University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Darwin Brown, MPH, PA-C: University of Nebraska Medical Center

None to report.

None to report.

Prior Presentations
Poster presented at: 27th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists; July 2010; Honolulu, HI.


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