WHAT IS A GANGLION CYST?

A ganglion cyst is a benign mass commonly found on the wrist and the end joints in the fingers.  These typically arise from a joint or a tendon.  They are filled with a thick fluid that acts as a lubricant for the joint or tendon.  The fluid leaks from the joint and is covered by a thick sheath.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GANGLION CYST?

People will notice a growth on the wrist or fingers.  This growth will often fluctuate in size as the fluid moves in and out of the joint/tendon sheath.  It often has well defined borders.  Usually these are asymptomatic, but they can cause pain with joint motion.

HOW IS GANGLION CYST DIAGNOSED?

Ganglion cyst is most often diagnosed by history and physical exam.  An X-ray may be ordered to look at the underlying joint.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR GANGLION CYST?

In most cases, the initial treatment for ganglion cyst is without surgery.  If the cyst is located in a safe location, aspiration of the fluid with a needle is attempted.  This results in resolution 40% of the time, which is still less risky than surgery.  If the cyst is not in a location allowing drainage, or it recurs after drainage, then surgical removal is warranted.

WHAT DOES GANGLION CYST SURGERY INVOLVE?

Ganglion cyst surgery involves removing the cyst with its capsule.  Often a small piece of the underlying joint capsule or tendon sheath is removed with the cyst.  This prevents recurrence.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN RISKS OF SURGERY?

• Swelling, stiffness, and pain
• Infection
• Nerve Damage
• Arterial damage
• Tendon or joint damage
• Recurrence

WHAT IS THE RECOVERY AFTER GANGLION CYST SURGERY?

This is dependant on the type of work you perform.  Many patients with office jobs only require a few days.  However, patients who perform heavy labor may require 4-5 weeks to recover. Usually, you can return to work within a couple days with a splint in place. The splint will be removed in 2 weeks.You may drive when you are off narcotics and feel confident to control the car.  Most patients are able to drive within a week.

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