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MRI characteristics of olecranon bursitis.

OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to describe the MRI characteristics of septic and nonseptic olecranon bursitis.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: MRI contrast-enhanced examinations (n = 19) of 35 patients with olecranon bursitis (septic, n = 14; nonseptic, n = 21) were jointly reviewed by two musculoskeletal radiologists. We evaluated bursa size, extent of marginal lobulation, septation, concomitant elbow joint effusion, soft-tissue edema, rim enhancement, soft-tissue enhancement, degree of fluid complexity, definition of bursa margins, presence of edema, thickening of the triceps tendon, and bone marrow edema.

RESULTS: Comparison of septic and nonseptic bursitis yielded the following results: marginal lobulation, 79% (11/14) versus 48% (10/21), p = 0.14; bursa septation, 64% (9/14) versus 57% (12/21), p = 1.0; moderate or marked complexity of bursa fluid, 64% (9/14) versus 29% (6/21), p = 0.15; poorly defined margins, 64% (9/14) versus 67% (14/21), p = 1.0; elbow joint effusion, 86% (12/14) versus 52% (11/21), p = 0.12; moderate to marked soft-tissue edema, 64% (9/14) versus 33% (7/21), p = 0.1; edema of the triceps, 57% (8/14) versus 48% (10/21), p = 0.73; thickening of the triceps, 43% (6/14) versus 14% (3/21), p = 0.21; bone marrow edema, 29% (4/14) versus 5% (1/21), p = 0.13; rim enhancement, 100% (11/11) versus 75% (6/8), p = 0.31; soft-tissue enhancement, 100% (11/11) versus 63% (5/8), p = 0.1.

CONCLUSION: Septic and nonseptic olecranon bursitis present with a considerable overlap of MRI findings without statistically significant differences. Septic olecranon bursitis can be excluded in the absence of bursal and soft-tissue enhancement.

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