n Ganglion Cyst Removal - AOA Orthopedic Specialists


What is a Ganglion Cyst?

Synovium, or synovial membrane, lines many joints and contains the synovial fluid which lubricates and hydrates the joint.  Synovium lines joints, tendon sheaths, and bursaeGanglion cysts, similar to mucous cysts, form in the synovium tissue forming a balloon like growth that fills with synovial fluid.  Ganglion cysts can form in any synovial tissue of the body, but in the wrist,  they tend to form on back side (distal) of the wrist, but they can also form on the front side (volar) of the wrist, front or back of the hand, and the joints of the fingers.  Ganglion cysts may rapidly form and change shape and size.  Many Ganglion cysts self-resolve, but for those that don’t rest will often cause them to shrink.

Treating a Ganglion Cyst

Ganglion cysts generally do not pose much risk to patients and out of all the growths on wrists and hands ganglion cysts occur most often.  Ganglions cysts usually have no symptoms beyond visual deformity.  Anchored to deep tissues a ganglion cyst will not follow the skin if manipulated and will illuminate if a strong light passes through them.  Most patients self-resolve within a year without treatment.  Many patients push on their cyst until they rupture solving the issue for a short time, but a closed rupture of a ganglion cyst has a large rate of re-occurrence.  A physician can drain the cyst, excluding volar cases with proximity to the radial artery, as an easy attempt to cure the issue.  Physicians utilize draining the cyst despite a re-occurrence rate twice as high as surgery due to the minimally invasive and inexpensive nature of the in-office procedure.  Some cases have side effects from the pressure the cyst puts on the surrounding nerves and blood supply indicating surgical excision.  Patients may also consider surgical excision, called a ganglionectomy, if their cysts fail to get better with conservative treatment.


Ganglion cyst removal, also known as a ganglionectomy or mucous cyst excision, is a surgical procedure to remove a cyst from your hand, wrist, foot, or other part of the body. A swollen, closed sac under the skin, ganglion cysts may develop from the sheath of a tendon or joint. Sheaths are thin sleeves of elastic tissue that wrap around the outside of a tendon, which connect muscle to bone.


Physicians consider ganglion cyst excision under the following conditions:

  • The patient has severe pain
  • The cyst grows large causing restriction of joint motion
  • The cyst presses or pushes on vital organs, arteries, nerves, or blood supply
  • Cysts that press on vascular components can cut off blood supply leading to irreparable tissue damage if not treated quickly
  • Cysts that press on nerves can cause tingling, numbness, and pain

Physicians also give location dependent consideration for high visibility cosmetic reasons.  Depending on the location a physician will perform the surgical intervention with a open surgery, or with a minimally invasive wrist arthroscopy.

Considering removing a ganglion cyst?  Speak with our Fellowship trained orthopedic hand surgeons today! 817-375-5200


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