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Septic and non-septic olecranon bursitis in the accident and emergency department–an approach to management.

Stell IM. J Accid Emerg Med 1996 Sep;13(5):351-3.

Olecranon bursitis is relatively common. One third of episodes are septic. Most of the remainder are non-septic, with occasional rheumatological causes. Trauma can cause both septic and non-septic olecranon bursitis. Clinical features are helpful in separating septic from non-septic olecranon bursitis, but there may be local erythema in both. Aspiration should be carried out in all cases, and if the presence of infection is still in doubt, microscopy, Gram staining, and culture of the aspirate will resolve the issue. Septic olecranon bursitis should be treated by aspiration, which may need to be repeated, and a long course of antibiotics. Some cases will need admission, and a few will need surgical treatment. Non-septic olecranon bursitis can be managed with aspiration alone. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs probably hasten symptomatic improvement. Intrabursal corticosteroids produce a rapid resolution but concern remains over their long term local effects. Recovery from septic olecranon bursitis can take months.

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