Which physical findings are characteristic of prepatellar bursitis (housemaid's knee)?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Divakara Kedlaya, MBBS; Chief Editor: Dean H Hommer, MD  more...
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The physician may note any of the following signs and symptoms during physical examination:

  • Tenderness of the patella to palpation

  • Fluctuant edema over the lower pole of the patella

  • Erythema of the knee

  • Crepitation of the knee

  • Decreased knee flexion secondary to pain

Although a local skin lesion or fever can be a sign of septicity in bursitis, a study by Tuff and Chrobak, indicated that this is not always the case. In the study, involving two patients with septic olecranon bursitis and one with septic prepatellar bursitis (all adult hockey players), no local skin lesions were found, and only one patient, with olecranon bursitis, suffered from fever. The investigators stated, therefore, that clinicians should have a high index of suspicion for septicity in acute bursitis even when local skin lesions and fever are absent. [22]

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