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To quantify recovery of colored microspheres from normal cadaver tarsocrural joints using arthroscopic or needle lavage with 1–5 L of fluid.Ex vivo experimental study.Adult Quarter Horse cadavers (n = 8).After euthanasia, 1.5 × 106 colored microspheres were injected into each tarsocrural joint. Each joint was randomly assigned to receive lavage (5 L 0.9% NaCl) with an arthroscope (dorsomedial arthroscope and dorsolateral egress cannula) or three 14 g needles (dorsomedial ingress, dorsolateral, and plantarolateral egress). Egress fluid from each liter was collected separately over time and the number of microspheres present in each recovered liter determined by spectrophotometry.A significant interaction was present between treatment group and liter of fluid (P < .01). The number of microspheres recovered in the first liter of lavage fluid was significantly higher in the needle lavage group than in the arthroscopic lavage group (P < .01). For both groups, the number of microspheres recovered in the first liter of lavage fluid represented a majority of the total microspheres collected and was significantly different from each subsequent liter collected (P < .01). The number of microspheres recovered did not differ between liters 2, 3, 4, and 5 within or between treatment groups.In this model, tarsocrural lavage with three 14 g needles was more effective at removing colored microspheres from the joint than arthroscopic lavage, suggesting that the number or placement of portals present may be more important than portal size and flow rate. No difference in microsphere recovery was seen with lavage volumes >1 L.