Bursectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a small, fluid-filled sac (bursa) within a joint when it becomes inflamed (bursitis). The bursa act as cushions for bones, and the muscles and tendons which are located near them.

Inflammation is more likely to develop in joints that perform repetitive motions. Most commonly, the hips, elbows, or shoulder joints are affected; however inflammation may also develop in the knee, heel, or big toe.

Understanding the procedure

A bursectomy is a fairly simple and minimally invasive procedure that is typically done arthroscopically on an outpatient basis, meaning no overnight stay in the hospital. In this technique, the bursa is removed through a small incision or cut over the joint. A tiny camera, or arthroscope, is placed in the incision so the doctor can guide the surgical instruments and cut out the bursa. Because this surgery is much less invasive, recovery is quicker and less painful.

Indications for the procedure

The most common treatment for the bursa is rest and anti-inflammatory medication. This treatment usually resolves most problem conditions. However, for people who experience severe or chronic problems that restrict movement or certain activities, surgery may be the most effective treatment in the long term.