Ganglion Cysts

What is a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a benign mass commonly found on the back of the wrist and the end of joints in the fingers. These tumors or lumps usually arise from a joint or tendon. They are filled with a thick fluid (joint fluid) and covered by a thick sheath.

What are the symptoms of a ganglion cyst?

Ganglion cysts are usually seen as a lump or bump on the hand or wrist. The cause of these cysts may be related to arthritis or an inflammation around a tendon. In some cases, the cause is unknown.

How is a ganglion cyst diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a ganglion cyst is made by the appearance of the mass and its location. Sometimes an x-ray is necessary to rule out bone abnormalities. In a great percentage of cases, the ganglion cyst is painless, but in some patients pain is with certain activities. The cyst can change in size or disappear completely on its own.

What is the Treatment for a ganglion cyst?

Treatment is related to the symptoms. If there is no pain associated with the ganglion cyst, treatment can be observation only. A wrist brace may help diminish the size of the cyst. If pain is associated with the cyst or it is large and cosmetically unacceptable to the patient, it can be aspirated with a needle removing the fluid inside. The cyst may also be surgically removed. Surgery includes the removal of the cyst and its surrounding membrane and the extension of the cyst into the joint. There is a higher chance of recurrence with the aspiration technique than with surgery. However, even with surgery the cyst may return.

After surgery, a soft dressing or a resting splint is applied to control post-operative pain. Stitches are removed 7 to 10 days after the procedure. Physical therapy is sometimes necessary if stiffness develops in the wrist or digit.

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