Prepatellar Bursitis

Updated: Aug 24, 2016
  • Author: Kelly L Allen, MD; Chief Editor: Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD  more...
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The prepatellar bursa is a superficial bursa with a thin synovial lining located between the skin and the patella. Normally, it does not communicate with the joint space and contains a minimal amount of fluid; however, inflammation of the prepatellar bursa results in marked increase of fluid within its space.



The prepatellar bursa is a flat round synovial-lined structure; its main function is to separate the patella from the patellar tendon and skin. This bursa is superficial, suggesting that it is undeveloped at birth. Within the first few months to years of life, the bursa arises from direct pressure and friction. The function of the bursa is to reduce friction and allow maximal range of motion (ROM).




Mortality associated with prepatellar bursitis is rare. Morbidity usually is secondary to pain and limited function. [1] In the case of septic prepatellar bursitis, failure to diagnose in a timely manner may lead to increased morbidity secondary to infectious etiology.


Incidence of prepatellar bursitis is greater in males than females.


Prepatellar bursitis can affect all age groups; however, in the pediatric age group, it is likely to be septic and to develop in an immunocompromised host.