Treatment and outcome with traumatic lesions of the olecranon and prepatellar bursa: a literature review apropos a retrospective analysis including 552 cases

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2017 Jun;137(6):823-827. doi: 10.1007/s00402-017-2690-2. Epub 2017 Apr 26.


Background: Traumatic lesions of the olecranon bursa (OB) and prepatellar bursa (PB) are injuries commonly seen in orthopaedic trauma units. These injuries are associated with a high rate of complications. At present, only little is known about the incidence, complication rate, and treatment approaches in patients with acute open bursae.

Materials and methods: A total of 552 patients who had been treated for acute traumatic lesions of either the olecranon bursa or the prepatellar bursa, or both at our department were retrospective identified in the years between 2009 and 2014. An analysis of the medical history of these patients was carried out to investigate the incidence of bursa injuries, circumstances, concomitant injuries, complication rate, and treatment approaches. In addition, a systematic literature search on PubMed was conducted.

Results: The incidence of traumatic lesions of the OB or PB in trauma patients was 0.2% (198/100,000; 62% OB, 38% PB). Bursectomy was performed in 83.7%. Concomitant injuries were present in 41% of the cases, with no significant influence on the complication rate (P = 0.367). The overall complication rate was 19.7%. Revision surgery was necessary in 4.5% of the patients. No significant differences between OB and PB injuries were noted with regard to the complication rate (P = 0.221). There were also no significant differences in the complication rate between patients who received bursectomy and those with conservative treatment (P = 0.364). Regression analyses showed that prophylactic antibiotic administration significantly reduced the risk of infection (P = 0.04).

Conclusions: Traumatic lesions of the OB and PB are associated with a high risk of complications. Prophylactic antibiotic therapy can potentially reduce the risk of infection and the need for revision surgery.

Keywords: Antibiotic therapy in wounds; Bursa; Bursectomy; Bursitis; Olecranon bursa; Prepatellar bursa; Traumatic bursa lesion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bursa, Synovial / diagnostic imaging
  • Bursa, Synovial / surgery*
  • Bursitis / etiology
  • Bursitis / surgery*
  • Elbow Joint / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / complications*
  • Knee Injuries / diagnosis
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / surgery*
  • Olecranon Process / diagnostic imaging
  • Olecranon Process / injuries*
  • Olecranon Process / surgery
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods*