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What Are the Different Types of Ganglion Cyst Surgery?

Some patients may require surgery to remove a troublesome ganglion cyst.
A cyst excision may be done with a scalpel.
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  • Written By: Katriena Knights
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2014
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A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled cyst. While they can occur along any joint or tendon in the body, they most commonly are found along the tendons or in the joint of the wrist, along the fingers, or on the soles of the feet. These fluid cysts are classified as a benign tumor. In cases where the cysts cause discomfort or restrict movement, various types of surgery can used to remove them. The type of surgery used depends on the type of cyst that is present and where it is located.

What causes ganglion cysts is not known, but the occurrence of similar wrist cysts was recorded as far back as the writings of Hippocrates. One theory is that, in some cases, the cysts occur due to damage caused by repetitive stress injury or other issues that lead to the breakdown of collagen. This may allow fluid to collect, forming the cyst. Ganglion cysts are sometimes referred to as a Bible bump, because an old cure was to strike the protruding cyst with a Bible or other large book. The impact would burst the cyst — albeit usually painfully — and often the fluid would be reabsorbed. Modern medicine has developed less dramatic, but more effective, treatments.

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Different types of ganglion cyst surgery include excision and aspiration. Excision involves the complete removal of the cyst, and it is generally performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. The recurrence of cysts after excision occurs in about 5% to 15% of cases.

Another type of ganglion cyst surgery is aspiration, which basically drains the cyst: a needle is inserted into the cyst and the fluid is pulled out. This procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia and is relatively simple. It is not generally very successful, however, since the aspirated cyst quite frequently comes back. Cysts that occur directly on a joint are the least likely to recur after aspiration; those that form from the tendon sheath are the most likely to develop again. In fact, aspiration of a cyst linked to tendon swelling is not a great deal more effective than the old treatment of striking it with a book.

In many cases, ganglion cysts do not have to be treated with any of the different types of ganglion cyst surgery. If the cyst does not cause discomfort or interfere with normal movement, the recommended treatment is often just giving it time. Eventually, many ganglion cysts will simply disappear as the excess fluid is reabsorbed into the body.

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Animandel
Post 3

@mobilian33 - I can understand you choosing to have the ganglion drained instead of choosing to have the excision surgery. Nobody wants to have surgery and be cut when they can avoid the procedure. However, you might want to consider that when a cyst is drained it is more likely to come back than one that is surgically removed by cutting it off. Continually draining the cyst can get tiring and expensive, and if you're paying any portion of the bill this might be a big concern.

Also, the cysts are really painful for some people, so you want to get the thing treated and removed for good as soon as possible.

mobilian33
Post 2

There is a place on my foot where a bump started some time back. I didn't think much of it at the time. The bump looked a lot like an insect bite, and I get plenty of those during warm weather. The bump continue to grow, and I started to worry. My first thought was that I might have some kind of cancer.

Turns out I have a ganglion cyst and I have been waiting for it to go away on its own, but I'm beginning to think that isn't going to happen. After reading this article and seeing the different ways to handle the removal of a ganglion cyst, I think having it drained is the best option for me.

Feryll
Post 1

Now if I ever get a ganglion cyst, I know what to do for treatment. I think we have a really large old dictionary around the house somewhere. I have a friend and he had one of these cyst on his wrist. He told me the cyst may have developed because of all the tennis he plays, but that's just a guess.

Anyway, he had it removed, and when I saw him on the tennis courts the other day he looked as good as new. I didn't get a chance to talk to him, so I'm not sure how he had his cyst removed.

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