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Olecranon bursitis refers to inflammation of the olecranon bursa. The olecranon bursa is a subcutaneous sac that overlies the olecranon process and contains a small amount of fluid to prevent against injury of subcutaneous tissue and skin from the uncovered bony olecranon.
Bursitis can develop secondary to many causes:
- excessive use - e.g. student's elbow
- acute trauma
- repetitive trauma
- infection - septic
- inflammation - rheumatoid arthritis, gouty arthropathy and CPPD
Lateral radiograph of the elbow reveals soft tissue swelling superficial to the olecranon. Traumatic fracture or calcification in gout or CPPD may be evident.
May show a fluid collection in the olecranon bursa, features of synovial proliferation and/or hyperemia. A small proportion of patients may also show presence of an associated loose body or features of associated triceps tendonitis (+/- calcifications) 2.
- fluid density at the subcutaneous tissue superficial to the elbow
Bursal fluid collection has the following features:
- T1: hypointense
- T2: mainly hyperintense
- C+ (Gd): enhancement of bursal margins
- 1. Floemer F, Morrison WB, Bongartz G et-al. MRI characteristics of olecranon bursitis. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2004;183 (1): 29-34. doi:10.2214/ajr.183.1.1830029 - Pubmed citation
- 2. Blankstein A, Ganel A, Givon U et-al. Ultrasonographic findings in patients with olecranon bursitis. Ultraschall Med. 2006;27 (6): 568-71. doi:10.1055/s-2006-926569 - Pubmed citation
- 3. Jin W, Lee JH, Yang DM et-al. Olecranon bursitis communicating with an olecranon cyst in rheumatoid arthritis. J Ultrasound Med. 2007;26 (6): 857-61. J Ultrasound Med (full text) - Pubmed citation