Suprapatellar bursa

Last revised by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking on 14 Apr 2021

The suprapatellar bursa, also known as the suprapatellar recess or suprapatellar pouch, is one of several bursae of the knee. It is located proximal to the knee joint, between the prefemoral and suprapatellar fat pads. As with all bursae, its purpose is to reduce friction between moving structures.

In most (~85%) people, the suprapatellar bursa communicates with the knee joint proper. Thus, it is useful to assess for bursal distension on x-ray, as this generally indicates the presence of a knee effusion.

Variant anatomy

  • the suprapatellar bursa does not communicate with the knee joint in ~15% of people, remaining separated by an embryonic septum 2,3

Related pathology

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: knee bursae
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  • Case 1: suprapatellar bursa - normal (MRI)
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