What is it?
A ganglion is a benign jelly filled cyst arising from a tendon (sinew) or a joint. These can occur a several sites on the body but are most common at the wrist or in the hand. They do not cause any damage the tendons or joints, or cause arthritis.
Many ganglions may simply appear as painless lumps although some cause aching or pain. Some may interfere with grip because of their site.
What treatment is available?
Many ganglions do not require treatment once the correct diagnosis is made. They often disappear on there own. Aspiration (putting a needle into the ganglion to remove the jelly) can be done in the outpatient clinic. Surgery can be performed if the ganglion is unsightly, painful or recurs after aspiration. This is commonly performed under a local anaesthetic, but at certain sites a full, general anaesthetic may be required.
Do they come back?
Ganglions can recur whatever treatment is undertaken, but this is more likely if only aspiration is performed (50%+). Up to 20% may recur following surgery.
What does the operation involve?
During the operation the ganglion is removed from the joint or tendon. Dissolving stitches are often used. The skin takes 10 to 14 days to heal.
Are there any risks?
There is also some risk of damage to other tissues around the ganglion which is rare. There is a scar which may be sore and the joint may be stiff for several weeks. The ganglion may recur and rarely infection can occur but is usually simple to treat with antibiotics.