What Is a Ganglion Cyst Excision?

Amanda Barnhart

A ganglion cyst excision is a surgical procedure to remove a fluid-filled sac from the finger, wrist, or sole of the foot. Ganglion cysts form near the joints in the wrists, fingers, or feet, and may be painful due to pressure on the surrounding nerves. These cysts do not always require surgical treatment. Immobilizing the affected area can help prevent the growth of the cyst, and draining the fluid from the cyst with a small needle can also alleviate pain and other symptoms for some patients. Patients who have ganglion cysts that do not respond to other treatment methods or cysts that keep coming back may require a ganglion cyst excision to completely cut the cyst away from the joint and tendons.

A cyst excision may be done with a scalpel.
A cyst excision may be done with a scalpel.

Many doctors perform a ganglion cyst excision as an in-office procedure with a local or regional anesthesia. Once the area is numb, the doctor makes an incision near the cyst to carefully cut it away with a scalpel. The most important part of the procedure is to remove the cyst entirely, including the stalk near the joint that the cyst sprouts from. The incision is then stitched closed.

In some cases, surgery may be needed to treat a ganglion cyst.
In some cases, surgery may be needed to treat a ganglion cyst.

In some cases, doctors can remove a ganglion cyst through an extremely small incision in a procedure called an arthroscopic ganglion cyst excision. This type of surgery uses a small camera inserted through the opening to help the surgeon locate and remove the cyst. Arthroscopic procedures typically have shorter recovery times due to the smaller incision.

Patients may need to wear a splint to keep the affected wrist area stationary following a ganglion cyst excision.
Patients may need to wear a splint to keep the affected wrist area stationary following a ganglion cyst excision.

Most patients recover well after the procedure and have no further problems. Rest is necessary after the surgery, and patients may need to wear a splint to keep the affected wrist, finger, or foot stationary during the healing process. Most patients go home the same day of surgery and rest the area for several days before returning to work and normal activities. Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications can relieve discomfort in the first days after surgery.

A person can develop one large ganglion cyst or several smaller ones.
A person can develop one large ganglion cyst or several smaller ones.

Complications following a ganglion cyst excision are rare. Patients who undergo the procedure should care for the incision as directed by their doctors. This usually includes keeping the area clean and dry as well as changing the dressing at least once or twice a day during the first days after surgery. An incision that shows signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, or seeping pus, should be evaluated so that treatment to fight the infection can be administered as quickly as possible.

The site of a ganglion cyst excision should be covered with sterile bandages to reduce the risk of infection.
The site of a ganglion cyst excision should be covered with sterile bandages to reduce the risk of infection.
The cause of ganglion cysts is not known, but they are more likely to affect those with osteoarthritis or previously injured tendons or joints.
The cause of ganglion cysts is not known, but they are more likely to affect those with osteoarthritis or previously injured tendons or joints.

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Discussion Comments

andee

I had a ganglion cyst on my finger and it was really annoying. This was on the index finger of my right hand and I am right handed, so it was always in the way.

I tried having this drained a few times, but this was only a temporary fix. Unless you completely remove the sac that has the fluid in it, chances are it will just come back. This is exactly what happened to me.

If anyone has one of these, I would recommend just getting it removed and not even mess with having it drained. If you are like me, you will just end up back at the doctor because it has come back.

Thankfully, this is something that is easy to treat and easy to recover from. I had this done on a Friday afternoon and was back at work on Monday morning.

bagley79

I had a ganglion cyst on the bottom of my foot that wasn't very big, but caused me pain when I was on my feet for very long. At the time, I was on my feet most of the day for my job, so I choose to have ganglion cyst removal surgery.

I gave myself a few days to heal up since being on my feet could aggravate the incision and slow up the healing process. I don't know what causes these cysts, but just happened to notice it one day.

Over time it kept getting a little bigger, so that is when I decided to finally have it removed. I wasn't given the option to have this done with an arthroscope, but think that would have been an even better way to go about it.

julies

When I was in college I had a friend who had a ganglion cyst on her wrist. One day she noticed this tiny bump on her wrist that she hadn't seen before and she kind of freaked out about it.

She went to the doctor right away and he told her it was nothing to be concerned about. She made an appointment to go back and have the cyst removed. She was back at school the next day, so the treatment wasn't really all that big of a deal.

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