The clinical spectrum of severe septic bursitis in northwestern Spain: a 10 year study

J Rheumatol. 1999 Mar;26(3):663-7.


Objective: To assess the clinical and microbiological characteristics of septic bursitis in those cases that required treatment at the hospital during the past 10 years in a northwestern area of Spain.

Methods: The charts of all patients diagnosed as having septic bursitis at Hospital Xeral-Calde, Lugo, Spain, from October 1987 through September 1997 were reviewed based on published criteria and graded according to severity.

Results: Sixty-nine patients diagnosed with definite and 6 with probable septic bursitis met the criteria for severe septic bursitis. Sixty-two were male (82.7%). The mean age at the time of diagnosis was 51 years. The most frequently involved sites were olecranon (47%) and prepatellar (44%) bursae. Among predisposing factors, the presence of prepatellar bursitis was correlated with a job that involved frequent trauma on the bursae. The main clinical and laboratory findings were cellulitis and/or erythema (94.7%), fever (77.3%), and leukocytosis (72%). Noninflammatory synovial fluid (SF, < 2,000 leukocytes/mm3) was observed in 4/32 (12.5%) cases. Positive SF cultures were obtained in 69 of 75 patients (92%). Staphylococcus aureus was the most common pathogen (84%). Blood cultures were positive in 12 of 62 patients (19.4%). Three patients had osteomyelitis. This complication was associated with a longer delay to diagnosis from the onset of symptoms (> 3 weeks vs 9.3+/-13.3 days for the group as a whole). Apart from these 3 cases, overall outcome was excellent.

Conclusion: Severe septic bursitis is a common disease. Local trauma is the most common risk factor for this infection. Although the most common pathogen is S. aureus, other pathogens such as Brucella abortus play an important role in this infection in our area.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bursa, Synovial / injuries
  • Bursa, Synovial / microbiology
  • Bursa, Synovial / pathology
  • Bursitis / epidemiology*
  • Bursitis / microbiology
  • Bursitis / pathology
  • Cloxacillin / therapeutic use
  • Elbow Joint / injuries
  • Elbow Joint / microbiology
  • Elbow Joint / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patella / injuries
  • Patella / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis / epidemiology*
  • Sepsis / microbiology
  • Sepsis / pathology
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / pathology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification


  • Cloxacillin