Septic bursitis: presentation, treatment and prognosis

J Rheumatol. 1987 Dec;14(6):1160-3.


Forty-nine episodes of septic bursitis in 45 patients were reviewed. Our experience concurs with previous studies: (1) the most frequently involved sites were the olecranon (63%) and prepatellar (27%) bursae; (2) Staphylococcus aureus was the commonest pathogen (78%); (3) skin breakage, trauma and/or occupational risk factors were significantly associated with infections (74 and 92% of olecranon and prepatellar episodes, respectively); (4) bursal fluid white blood cell (WBC) counts varied widely (350-392,500 WBC/mm3); and (5) a significant number of patients failed to respond to initial oral antibiotics. In addition to these points, we have been impressed with several clinical observations that merit special emphasis: (1) cellulitis adjacent to the affected bursae was frequent (89%) and often extensive; (2) profound edema occurred in 11% of affected limbs; (3) clinical resolution was slow, occurring at a mean of greater than 5 weeks, but at times requiring as long as 20 weeks to return to baseline status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Bursitis / microbiology
  • Bursitis / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Suction


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents