JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW
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Prepatellar and olecranon bursitis: literature review and development of a treatment algorithm.

PURPOSE: Olecranon bursitis and prepatellar bursitis are common entities, with a minimum annual incidence of 10/100,000, predominantly affecting male patients (80 %) aged 40-60 years. Approximately 1/3 of cases are septic (SB) and 2/3 of cases are non-septic (NSB), with substantial variations in treatment regimens internationally. The aim of the study was the development of a literature review-based treatment algorithm for prepatellar and olecranon bursitis.

METHODS: Following a systematic review of Pubmed, the Cochrane Library, textbooks of emergency medicine and surgery, and a manual reference search, 52 relevant papers were identified.

RESULTS: The initial differentiation between SB and NSB was based on clinical presentation, bursal aspirate, and blood sampling analysis. Physical findings suggesting SB were fever >37.8 °C, prebursal temperature difference greater 2.2 °C, and skin lesions. Relevant findings for bursal aspirate were purulent aspirate, fluid-to-serum glucose ratio <50 %, white cell count >3,000 cells/μl, polymorphonuclear cells >50 %, positive Gram staining, and positive culture. General treatment measures for SB and NSB consist of bursal aspiration, NSAIDs, and PRICE. For patients with confirmed NSB and high athletic or occupational demands, intrabursal steroid injection may be performed. In the case of SB, antibiotic therapy should be initiated. Surgical treatment, i.e., incision, drainage, or bursectomy, should be restricted to severe, refractory, or chronic/recurrent cases.

CONCLUSIONS: The available evidence did not support the central European concept of immediate bursectomy in cases of SB. A conservative treatment regimen should be pursued, following bursal aspirate-based differentiation between SB and NSB.

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