Ganglion Cysts - Academy Orthopedics
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Ganglion Cysts

What is a Ganglion Cyst?

Ganglion cysts are benign (non-cancerous) masses/cysts that commonly occur around joints. Frequently, these occur in the hand and wrist, especially on the top (dorsum) of the wrist. They are filled with gelatinous-type fluid.

Causes of Ganglion Cysts

The exact cause of ganglion cysts is sometimes unknown. It can be associated with wrist sprains or trauma.

Signs and Symptoms of Ganglion Cysts

The symptoms of ganglion cysts are frequently described as a pain free mass or cyst on the wrist or hand. It is most commonly located on the top (dorsum) of the wrist. The mass frequently changes size based on activity.

Diagnosis of Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are diagnosed by observation of symptoms, medical history and performing a physical examination of the wrist. Occasionally, a MRI is needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for Ganglion Cysts

The treatment of a ganglion cyst consists of both non-operative and operative options.

Non-surgical approaches include avoiding activities that increase pain and swelling, applying ice, using a splint to support, and immobilizing the hand.

If conservative treatment fails, in-office aspiration of the cyst and/or use of a steroid injection may be elected. This has a recurrence rate of around 50%.

Some patients request surgical removal of the cyst. Surgical cyst excisions are commonly done under local anesthetic and have a recurrence rate of about 10-15%.