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Subcutaneous Prepatellar Bursa
Connective Tissue

Subcutaneous Prepatellar Bursa

Bursa subcutanea prepatellaris

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Bursae are sac-like structures, with an inner synovial membrane, that produces a thin film of synovial fluid. They aid in reducing friction between moving tissues of the body, such as between tendon and bone, ligament and bone, tendons and ligaments, and between muscles.

Inflammation of the bursa is known as bursitis. If the inflammation is due to injury or strain, it is known as aseptic bursitis. However, if the inflammation is caused by infection, it is known as septic bursitis.

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Anatomical Relations

The prepatellar bursa is a closed sac of synovial fluid found between the skin and patella. It lies within the subcutaneous tissue and measures approximately 39.7 mm, 40.5 mm and 3.2 mm in the craniocaudal, anteromedial, and anteroposterior planes, respectively (van Holsbeeck and Introcaso, 2016).

Compartmentalization of the bursal sac by coronal fascial septa has been reported. For instance, a subdivision of the prepatellar bursa into three compartments has been reported. These include a:

-superficial compartment (prepatellar subcutaneous bursal space) between subcutaneous tissue and transverse superficial fascia;

—intermediate compartment (prepatellar subfascial bursal space), situated between transverse superficial fascia and intermediate oblique fascia;

—deep compartment (prepatellar subaponeurotic bursal space), between intermediate oblique fascia and rectus femoris tendon, which inserts directly into the patella (Aguiar et al., 2007).


The prepatellar bursa reduces friction between the patellar and the overlying skin.

List of Clinical Correlates

—Housemaid’s knee


Aguiar, R. O., Viegas, F. C., Fernandez, R. Y., Trudell, D., Haghighi, P. and Resnick, D. (2007) 'The prepatellar bursa: cadaveric investigation of regional anatomy with MRI after sonographically guided bursography', AJR Am J Roentgenol, 188(4), pp. W355-8.

van Holsbeeck, M. and Introcaso, J. (2016) Musculoskeletal Ultrasound. Jaypee Brothers,Medical Publishers Pvt. Limited.

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Synovial Bursa

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Synovial bursae provide a gliding surface and a cushion for soft tissues as they pass over skeletal prominences and are found over bone and under muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia, or skin.

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