Ganglion cyst removal is surgical procedure to remove a fluid-filled lump or sac on the skin of the wrist, finger, or foot. The cyst is attached to a tendon or a joint through its fibers. Except for their unsightly appearance, these non-cancerous cysts may be completely harmless, causing no pain and requiring no treatment. Often, they go away on their own. However, treatment may be needed for cosmetic reasons or when pain and restriction of movement limits activities.

Understanding the procedure

Surgery is done on an outpatient basis, meaning there is no overnight hospital stay, and can involve simple removal of the cysts through a small incision or cut in which a camera (arthroscope) is inserted to view the area. Through another small incision, instruments can be inserted to remove the cyst and the part that attaches it to the joint or tendon. Arthroscopic surgery is becoming more common for this type of procedure because of less scarring and shorter healing times due to the smaller incision.

It may also be done through a more traditional “open” approach where the surgeon cuts around the cyst to remove it and the part that attaches it to the joint or tendon, along with a small portion of the surrounding tissue.

Indications for the procedure

Surgical removal of the cyst may be recommended when it is painful, interferes with function (especially when the hand is involved), or causes numbness or tingling. It may also be used when symptoms like pain do not respond to more conservative treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medicine.