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Ganglion Excision

General Information

A ganglion cyst typically affects the hands. Known as ganglia, a ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac or growth on the hand or wrist that looks like swelling. More women than men experience ganglia. The most common location of the cyst is the back of the wrist. They're also common at the front of the inside of the wrist, and near the ends of the fingers before the cuticle. Most ganglia grow or develop from within joint capsules or the sheaths that protect tendons. They may appear anywhere on the hand, especially in those who experience repetitive stress to the wrist joint. Ganglia are believed to develop following an injury or condition like arthritis. They're round and firm and contain clear liquid that's thick and sticky. While most ganglia don't require treatment, you may want to have such a growth removed if it causes discomfort, embarrassment or impedes your ability to perform daily tasks.

Reasons for a Ganglion Excision

  • Ease discomfort
  • Reduce self-consciousness regarding the growth
  • Maintain finger and wrist joint function


  • Visual examination
  • X-rays to rule out other possible condition


Your doctor may first attempt to deal with a ganglion cyst by draining the gel-like substance from the cyst through needle aspiration. However, over time, the cyst may again fill with fluid. Drainage of the ganglion cyst is often referred to a ganglion excision. Excision describes the cutting out or removal of something but today, removal of a ganglion cyst is often performed with an arthroscope, a preferred alternative to open excision techniques of the past. The surgical excision of the entire cyst and the cyst capsule may also require removal of a portion of the joint capsule or the sheath that covers and protects the tendons of the hand.

What to Expect

Removal of a ganglion cyst is an outpatient procedure that can be done in your doctor's office. Depending on the size of the ganglion, and your doctor's recommendations, you will likely be able to resume normal daily activity within two to five weeks following the excision procedure.