Bursectomy

A bursectomy is carried out when a patient has inflamed bursae. Inflammations of bursae can occur in different places on the body. The knee joint, the elbow joint, the shoulder joint or the hip joint are most often affected.

Bursae serve as padding and a sliding layer when different tissue rubs together as you move. They are mostly located near joints. They lie snuggly under the skin on the knee and elbow joint. They cannot be palpated in the shoulder joint or the hip joint.

If a bursa is inflamed, which is known as bursitis in medical terms, it fills with inflammatory fluid. This causes pain and with time it results in a calcification of the bursa. The bursae on the knee in front of the knee cap, in the knee cap and on the elbow are most often affected by inflammation. If a patient suffers recurrent or chronic bursitis, it can only be healed permanently if it is surgically removed (bursectomy).

What preparations are carried out before the procedure?

Different examinations are undertaken before the procedure. Depending on where the inflamed bursa is located, ultrasound examinations, x-rays or punctures of the bursa are undertaken.

Antihaemorrhagic agents are discontinued a few days beforehand. As is customary before operations, blood tests, an ECG and blood pressure measurements are also undertaken. Patients should have an empty stomach for the procedure.

How is the operation carried out?

A bursectomy is performed either under general anaesthetic or under local anaesthetic. It depends where the inflamed bursa is found. If it is in the shoulder joint, a bursa is often removed with a [shoulder joint endoscopy].

If it is on the knee joint and on the elbow joint, the skin over the bursa is opened with an incision. The bursa is then completely removed and the surgical wound is closed.

The duration of the surgery and the stay in hospital after a bursectomy depends on which bursa has to be removed.

What is the success rate of this procedure?

The symptoms of bursitis can usually be completely remedied with a bursectomy. Sometimes bursitis can recur.

What are the possible complications and risks of this procedure?

A bursectomy is a low-risk examination. As with all surgery, the operation may occasionally lead to nerve, blood vessel damage, infections or wound healing disorders.

What happens after the operation?

After a bursectomy, the affected joint is generally rested in a splint for some time. An elastic compression band should also prevent swelling or haemorrhages. Patients can already start exercising the joint in question on the first day after the surgery. People who have undergone this surgery should avoid major physical exertion in the first four to six weeks. Depending on which joint is affected, patients can expect to be off work for two to four weeks.

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