Bursectomy

The symptoms of bursitis can usually be treated using painkillers and self-care techniques such as rest and avoiding movement which aggravates the condition. However, in some cases, additional specialist intervention may be required to treat the condition.

Common questions

What is a bursectomy?

Bursectomy is the treatment of bursitis, which is inflammation and swelling of a bursa - the fluid-filled sac that surrounds a joint and cushions the tendons and bones. Elbows and knees are the joints most commonly affected by bursitis, which is usually caused by repetitive movement, pressure on the joint or traumatic injury. Bursitis in the knee is often called ‘housemaid’s knee’.

The symptoms of bursitis can usually be treated using painkillers and self-care techniques such as rest and avoiding movement which aggravates the condition.

In some cases, when other treatments have not proved successful, surgery may be recommended. In this procedure the affected fluid-filled sac (bursa) is either removed completely or fluid is drained from the sac. Surgery to remove infected bursa may be the only way to treat cases of septic bursitis, where the infection does not respond to antibiotics.

Why would I have a bursectomy?

You might have a bursectomy if you have bursitis and where treatments such as aspiration and / or cortisone injections have been unsuccessful.

What happens during a bursectomy?

This procedure is usually carried out as day surgery which means you’ll be able to return home on the same day, but you may not be able to drive yourself. A local anaesthetic will be used to numb the area of the operation.

Surgery to remove an abnormal bursa may be carried out either under open surgery or, alternatively using ‘keyhole’ surgery (using an ‘endoscope).

What should I expect after a bursectomy?

Immediately after surgery we’ll help manage any discomfort with painkillers. You'll need to avoid strenuous activity for a couple of days after aspiration or an injection, or for a longer period after surgery. We’ll give you physiotherapy instructions before you leave hospital to help your recovery and long-term improvement.

The pain associated with your condition should improve over a few weeks, but any swelling may take longer to disappear completely.

The exact length of your recovery period will depend on the location of your bursitis and if it is caused by an infection (septic bursitis).

Contact Benenden Hospital

It’s easy to make an appointment; you can ask your GP or give us a call on 01580 230661.