Septic bursitis: a case report and primer for the emergency clinician

J Emerg Med. 2009 Oct;37(3):269-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2007.03.005. Epub 2007 Jul 20.


We describe the case of a 44-year-old man who presented to the Emergency Department (ED) complaining of pain and swelling over the left elbow of 1-week duration. After olecranon bursal aspiration, synovial fluid analysis yielded an increased white blood cell count (3040 cells/mm(3)) and the presence of bacteria. Culture of the fluid later grew Staphylococcus aureus. The patient was initially treated with oral antibiotics for septic bursitis and returned to the orthopedics clinic for follow-up 2 days later with interval worsening of symptoms. He was subsequently admitted for parenteral antibiotics and surgical wash-out of the affected bursa. This report briefly discusses the clinical history and appropriate diagnostic evaluation for septic olecranon bursitis, as well as the shortcomings of existing treatment guidelines.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bursitis / diagnosis*
  • Bursitis / microbiology*
  • Bursitis / therapy
  • Drainage
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Olecranon Process / microbiology*
  • Olecranon Process / surgery
  • Staphylococcal Infections / diagnosis*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / therapy
  • Synovial Fluid / microbiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents