Excision of Ganglion Cyst

Excision of Ganglion Cyst

A ganglion cyst is a firm, fluid-filled noncancerous lump that usually develops in the wrist or hand. But some occur in the ankles or feet. If a ganglion cyst presses on a nerve, it can be painful. And depending on its location, a ganglion cyst may limit movement.

Some cysts do not require treatment, but others must be surgically removed. During a ganglion cyst removal, a doctor takes out the cyst capsule or stalk to completely remove the cyst. Even with surgery, a ganglion cyst may reoccur.

Surgical procedures for ganglion cyst removal

If your doctor decides that surgery is the best option, follow the specific instructions to prepare for surgery. Your doctor will likely refer you to a specialist in hand, wrist and elbow surgery, who will do the surgery. Ganglion cyst removal is normally an outpatient procedure and may be done under local or general anesthesia.

Before the surgical procedure, your doctor may draw a line above the cyst to mark the incision location. During the surgery, your doctor numbs the area and cuts along the line with a scalpel. The doctor then locates the cyst and cuts it out along with its capsule. Once the cyst is taken out, your doctor stitches the opening to let the skin heal.

Non-surgical Procedures for Ganglion Cyst Removal

Surgery is normally seen as a last resort for ganglion cyst treatment. Before deciding to take out a ganglion cyst, your doctor will discuss other treatment options.


One surgery alternative is having the cyst drained. This happens through a process called aspiration. In this procedure, your doctor punctures the cyst with a needle and drains fluids, making the cyst to shrink. This can relieve the pain caused by the cyst pressing on the nerves in your wrist and hand. Because aspiration drains the cyst but doesn’t remove it, the cyst can reoccur after this procedure.

Wrist brace

Your doctor may also prescribe a wrist brace to stop movement around the cyst. Movement can cause the cyst to enlarge and cause more pain and discomfort. By limiting movement, a brace can allow the cyst to shrink, which reduces the pain that the cyst causes by pressing on surrounding nerves.

Home remedies and alternative treatments

If you have ganglion cysts on your feet or ankles, wearing looser shoes or tying your shoelaces less tightly may reduce your pain.

Do not try to puncture a cyst yourself with a needle or other sharp objects. This increases the risk of recurrence and can also cause infections.

A common misconception about cysts is that hitting them with a large object will make them pop or shrink and disappear. The risk of recurrence is much higher when this method is used, and you can hurt yourself or cause infections around the site of the cyst.

Benefits of ganglion cyst removal

Some people with a ganglion cyst may not experience pain or limited movement. These cases may not require surgery but surgical removal can bring relief when a cyst becomes big and cannot be treated by other methods.

Surgery removes the source of your discomfort, but it does not remove the chance of cysts.

Risks of ganglion cyst removal

Like any other surgery, ganglion cyst removal can cause infection. You may experience an allergic reaction to the anesthesia used in the removal, or to the stitches used to close the removal site. Other possible risks include:

  • sensitivity around scar tissue.
  • injuries to nearby tendons, nerves or ligaments.
  • inability to move the wrist normally.

You’ll likely heal quickly and without difficulty after a ganglion cyst removal. The rate of recurrence can vary from person to person.

Recovery after ganglion cyst removal

After the surgical procedure, rest as much as you can for a few days. This will help the site of your cyst removal to heal. Reduce movement of your hand and wrist to minimize pain and avoid irritation of the removal site.

Minimal, non-repetitive activity is okay after a cyst removal like writing or carrying light objects. Your doctor may recommend finger exercises involving stretching your fingers and thumb and then bending them as much as it’s comfortable.

You may experience localized pain after surgery, which can be relieved by numbing medications or prescription pain medications.

You may also experience inflammation at the removal site. This can be treated with ice and will eventually go away.

In rare cases, infection may happen after ganglion cyst removal. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent the infection from spreading. Keep your dressings and wounds clean to avoid infection and limit scarring. Once the surgical site has healed, apply lotion into your skin to make sure that scars heal and keep your nerves stimulated.


You’ll most likely go home the same day as the procedure. You’ll normally heal in 2 to 6 weeks after your surgery.

A ganglion cyst removal does not guarantee that ganglion cysts will not reoccur, and you may experience new cysts a few years after surgery. But the chance of recurrence is small, and you may never have another cyst again after your first surgery.

DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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