by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Removal of Bursa)


A bursectomy is the removal of one or more of the fluid-filled sacs (bursas) near a joint.

Reasons for Procedure

The bursa helps muscle and tendons move smoothly over bones. An inflamed bursa can cause pain, limit movement, and limit activities.

This surgery is done to remove a bursa that has not been helped by other methods.

Bursitis in the Shoulder
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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Blood vessel or nerve damage

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery


The doctor may give:

Description of the Procedure

Small cuts are made by the joint. A scope is passed through the holes. It has a camera that will let the doctor see the area.

Tools are passed through the scope. They are used to remove the bursa and any scar tissue.

The scope and tools will be removed. The holes will be closed with stitches. A bandage will be placed over the area. A brace or sling may be used to support the joint.

How Long Will It Take?

It may take 30 minutes to up to 2 hours. It will depend on the location of the bursa.

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common in the first few days. Medicine and home care can help.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

Right after the procedure, the staff may:

  • Give you pain medicine
  • Raise the joint to ease swelling
  • Apply ice to the joint

During your stay, staff will take steps to lower your chance of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

You can also lower your chance of infection by:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your incisions
At Home

It will take several weeks for the joint to fully heal. Physical activity may need to be limited during recovery. You may need to ask for help with daily activities and delay return to work for a few weeks.

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excess bleeding, or any discharge from the incision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain that cannot be controlled with medicine
  • Numbness or weakness in the affected joint or muscles
  • New or unexpected symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


Arthroscopy Association of North America 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 


The Canadian Orthopaedic Association 

When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation 


Arthroscopy. American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: Accessed September 28, 2020.

Bursectomy. Cooper University Health Care website. Available at: Accessed September 28, 2020.

Del Buono A, Franceschi F, et al. Diagnosis and management of olecranon bursitis. Surgeon. 2012 Oct;10(5):297-300.

Olecranon bursitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed September 28, 2020.

Revision Information