Reference Work Entry

Rheumatology and Immunology Therapy

pp 726 -727

Prepatellar bursitis


Housemaid's knee.


Inflammation of the thin, superficial bursa which overlies the patella (kneecap). Usually caused by trauma, other causes of prepatellar bursitis include infection and inflammatory arthritis such as gout. The area superficial to the kneecap is often tender and warm to the touch and must be distinguished from pain emanating from the knee joint itself, which will be more painful with passive range of motion of the entire knee joint. Aspiration of the bursa should be performed if there is suggestion that the bursa may be infected.



NSAIDs can be used to help manage pain and symptoms of inflammation. Antibiotics must be given if the bursa if the bursa is septic. For cases of inflammatory (non-infectious) bursitis, glucocorticoid injection is sometimes performed.


Wearing kneepads during activities where the knee might be traumatized can be helpful. Rest, ice, and elevation of the affected leg can also provide some relief. Aspiration of the useful is diagnostically and may be therapeutic. If the bursitis is due to an underlying inflammatory disease, treatment of the underlying disease is recommended.


Prepatellar bursitis is infrequently chronic and is usually responsive to treatment. Rarely, chronic bursitis must be managed by surgical removal of the bursa.

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