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Septic Bursitis in the Prepatellar and Olecranon Bursae: An Analysis of 25 Cases

GEORGE HO Jr., M.D.; ALAN D. TICE, M.D.; and STEPHEN R. KAPLAN, M.D., F.A.C.P.
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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to George Ho, Jr., M.D.; Veterans Administration Hospital; Davis Park; Providence RI 02908.


Providence, Rhode Island


© 1978 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1978;89(1):21-27. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-89-1-21
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Five cases of septic prepatellar and 20 cases of septic olecranon bursitis are reported. All were men, with a mean age of 47 years. Seventeen had a history of recent trauma to the affected limb or sustained pressure on knees or elbows, or both, required by certain occupations. Septic bursitis was not associated with septic arthritis and could be easily distinguished from it by the characteristic bursal swelling and joint examination. Septic bursitis was misdiagnosed as nonseptic bursitis in eight cases despite characteristic bursal fluid leukocytosis ( > 1000 cells/mm3) and recovery of bacteria on culture. Staphylococcus aureus was identified in 22 cases; 76% were resistant to penicillin. Intravenous antibiotics and bursal fluid drainage were uniformly successful. Oral antibiotic therapy was also successful unless the infection was extensive or there was underlying bursal disease. Early recognition, prompt therapy, and preventive measures are necessary to reduce the morbidity of septic bursitis.

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