Ganglion Cyst | Minnesota

Tumors of the hand are usually benign, about 60% of these benign tumors is the ganglion cyst.

Ganglion cysts are benign jellylike-filled lumps (cysts) that most commonly develop along the tendons or joints of your wrists or hands and feet. Most often, the cyst will present at the dorsal wrist, accounting for 60-70% of all hand and wrist ganglia. A ganglion cyst may develop suddenly or gradually over time.

It’s not clear what causes a ganglion cyst to develop. The most common and accepted theory is that ganglion cyst is caused by degeneration of connective tissue and cystic space formation. It has also been suggested that degeneration of the connective tissue around tendons and joints is caused by an irritation or chronic damage causing some cells to produce mucin.

In many cases, small ganglion cysts will cause you no pain and require no treatment. They may go away on their own. When you do need treatment for a ganglion cyst — due to pain or interference with joint movement or for cosmetic concerns — it usually consists of removing the fluid from the ganglion cyst or surgically removing the cyst.

Ganglion cysts generally are the round, firm, smooth, and raised lumps near the tendons and joints.

Painless, although in some cases the cysts may put pressure on the nerves near the joint, which can cause pain, weakness or numbness.

In some cases, ganglion cyst isn’t visible. Often the only indication of these smaller, “hidden” ganglion cysts (occult ganglions) is pain. These occult cysts can be seen only with ultrasound or MRI.

Small ganglion cysts are often harmless and painless, requiring no treatment. In fact, in many cases, doctors recommend a watch-and-wait approach before exploring treatment options. However, if the ganglion cyst is causing pain or it’s interfering with joint movement, your doctor may recommend one of several treatment options.

Aspiration: your doctor drains the fluid from the cyst. To do so, your doctor applies a local anesthetic to the area above the cyst. Then, he or she punctures the cyst with a needle and removes the fluid from the base of the cyst with a syringe. Your doctor may recommend a steroid injection into the empty cyst after aspiration. This procedure can be done right in your doctor’s office.

After aspiration, as many as 60 percent of ganglion cysts may recur. If the cyst recurs, aspiration can be repeated. However, in some cases your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the cyst.

Surgery: If you have significant pain or difficulty with joint movement, or if other treatments aren’t working, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the ganglion cyst. In most cases, doctors perform the surgery on an outpatient basis, which means you’ll go home the same day as the operation.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that a ganglion cyst won’t recur, even after surgery. And as with all surgeries, there are risks to be considered. Though rare, injury to nerves, blood vessels or tendons may occur. Your doctor can help you decide the best treatment for you.

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