We aspirated the retrocalcaneal bursa in cadavers to determine the characteristics of bursal fluid. A small amount of clear, viscous fluid was constantly present in the bursa. Leucocyte count was low, and the mucin clot test was good. With the same technique we aspirated the retrocalcaneal bursae of 4 patients. Three had Reiter's syndrome; the bursal fluid was inflammatory, and symptoms promptly resolved after local corticosteroid injection. The fourth patient presented with heel pain; intracellular, positively birefringent crystals were present in the aspirate, consistent with the diagnosis of pseudogout.
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