If there are no symptoms, a ganglion cyst can be left without treatment. However, if there is pain or if the cyst affects movement of a joint, then there are two main treatment options available:
aspiration of a ganglion cyst (draining fluid out with a syringe) or
excision of a ganglion cyst (cutting the cyst out during surgery)
Excision of a ganglion cyst (cutting the cyst out during surgery), can be carried out in two different ways, either using open surgery or using arthroscopic (or keyhole) surgery. Your surgeon will decide which method to use based on the size and location of the ganglion and the potential complexity of the operation.
Open surgery to remove a ganglion cyst involves making a medium-sized cut, around 5cm long, over the affected joint and removing the cyst. During arthroscopic surgery, several smaller incisions are made and the surgeon uses small instruments to look inside the joint and remove the cyst. Because arthroscopic surgery uses only a series of small cuts instead of one large opening in the skin, the technique minimises the impact of the operation itself, promotes healing and leads to a fuller, faster recovery.
Either operation may be carried out under a general anaesthetic (so you’ll be asleep) or a local anaesthetic (so you’ll stay awake but won’t feel anything). The operation usually takes less than an hour and you’ll usually go home on the same day.
Immediately after surgery we’ll help you manage any pain or discomfort with painkillers. We’ll discuss your aftercare and arrange any follow-up appointments with you before you leave hospital.
Depending which joint has been operated on, in the first few days following your surgery you may need help to get around and you may need to put an ice pack on the affected area to reduce swelling and minimise discomfort.
The time needed before you return to work, driving and more vigorous activities will depend on the location of your operation and the progress of your recovery.
As with any surgical procedure there can be some risks, including:
- blood clots (including deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Aspiration of ganglion