What Should I Expect from Ganglion Surgery?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 January 2019
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Ganglion surgery is a procedure that is used to remove what is known as a ganglion cyst. The cyst, sometimes known as a Bible bump, is a mass of tissue that may form on the back of the hand, the front or back of the wrist, and in some instances elsewhere on the body. While generally painless, the cysts can grow to a point that they begin to impede movement, making it necessary to extract them.

In most cases, undergoing this type of surgery does not require being put to sleep and staying in a hospital for several days. The more common cases of ganglion cyst removal involve the wrist or the back of the hand. When this is the case, the surgeon will use a local anesthetic to deaden sensation in the area, then make a small incision near the cyst. Gently, the surgeon removes the tissue mass as well as the stalk that joins the cyst to the other tissue in the immediate area.

Once the cyst is removed, the next phase of the ganglion surgery involves sealing the incision. Depending on the length of the incision, sutures may be used, or simple stitches of various types. Once the incision is sealed, a protective bandage is applied. The bandage will capture any fluid that may leak from the incision, as well as protect the wound from airborne contaminants as it heals.


In situations where the cyst is located on the spine or the hip, the process may take a little longer, but tends to follow the same basic pattern. A local anesthetic is administered, the surgeon makes an incision, extracts the cyst, and seals the incision. Recovery from a ganglion cyst removal of any type is short in duration, and the patient normally only has to refrain from placing stress on the area for a day or two.

Along with removing the cyst, ganglion surgery also affords the surgeon to observe the surrounding area. This makes it possible to determine if there are any complicating factors, such as joint swelling, bruising of tissue, or tendon swelling that has resulted from the presence of the cyst. Depending on the circumstances, the surgeon may prescribe medication to aid in healing the slight damage, as well as to help minimize any pain that may be experienced from the swelling or the surgery itself.

It is important to remember that hand cysts, wrist cysts, and even cysts on the shoulders and spine can recur. However, ganglion surgery that removes both the cyst and the stalk help to minimize the chances of further cysts developing in the area, especially if an underlying health problem is uncovered and treated as a result of the surgery. After the procedure, the patient may go several years before another cyst appears, and possibly will not experience another ganglion cyst for the rest of his or her life.


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