Olecranon Bursectomy

If conservative treatment measures have failed to address a symptomatic olecranon bursitis, then a bursectomy can be performed. An incision, approximately 10cm in length, is made over the back of the elbow and then the bursa is excised. If there is any associated anatomical anomaly that is thought to have caused the bursistis, then it to will be addressed at the same time.

Information for patients / operative Information

Risks and complications

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve injury
  • Elbow stiffness
  • Continued discomfort

Before admission

  • Please bring any X-rays or scans with you to the hospital. This will usually be on a CD disc. These will not be needed if it was Mr. Falworth who organised the investigations.
  • No food for 6 hours, or drink for 4 hours, prior to surgery.
  • Please avoid smoking for at least 12 hours prior to surgery

In Hospital

  • An excision of an olecranon bursa is usually performed as a day case procedure.
  • One incision, approximately 5-6 cm in length, is made over the prominence of the elbow to remove the bursa. The wound is closed with dissolving sutures and Steri-strips.
  • A splash proof dressing will be applied but the wound should remain dry for 10 days.
  • A compression bandage will also be applied to prevent any undue swelling and this should remain in place for approximately three days.
  • Prior to your discharge from hospital, a physiotherapist will demonstrate some simple exercises as part of your rehabilitation protocol. These exercises should be undertaken when you’re at home and will help your shoulder recover from the surgery before your outpatient physiotherapy commences.

What to Expect

  • Swelling; immediately after the procedure, the elbow can swell and a compressive dressing should remain in place for approximately three days to help prevent any recurrence of the swelling. You will also be placed in a sling as elbow movement can also make the elbow more vulnerable to swelling. Ice can be used to help minimise any recurrent swelling and inflammation.
  • Pain; an Interscalene Block is sometimes used to help reduce the risk of immediate post-operative pain. If any discomfort arises once the block has worn off, or if you haven’t had a block, then simple oral analgesics can be taken to manage any pain. These will be provided to you upon discharge.
  • Bleeding; there may be some oozing through the bandages but this should settle soon after the operation.

Post-operative care

  • A sling will be provided to help rest your elbow. This is usually used for the first 14 days post surgery.
  • The wound should be kept dry for 10 days.
  • After ten days the dressings and paper Steristrips can be gently removed. If the wound is ‘dry’ then it is all right to wash the wound. If not, please consult Mr. Falworth or your GP for further advice.
  • You can begin to gently move your elbow three days after your operation. Extending and flexing your elbow periodically through the day will help prevent any undue stiffness, however it could also encourage bleeding so this should only be done occasionally during the first 10 days after surgery.

Post-operative appointments

  • You will be reviewed in clinic approximately 3 weeks following your surgery.

Estimated return to functional activities

  • Driving 2 weeks
  • Light duties 2 weeks
  • Return to work Usually 5-7 days but depends on occupation
  • Heavy Lifting 6 weeks
  • Repetitive arm activity/sport 6-12 weeks