Surgical Removal of Ganglions - Topic Overview
Surgical treatment may be needed for a
ganglion that has not responded to nonsurgical
- Is painful.
- Interferes with activity
- Causes changes in sensation.
- Is causing damage to wrist bones, finger
bones, or ligaments.
The goal of surgery is to remove the ganglion sac and the connecting
tissue that allows the fluid to collect.
Surgical removal of a ganglion is an outpatient procedure.
- The area around the ganglion is cleaned with an
local anesthetic is injected to numb the area or a
regional anesthetic is injected to numb the whole arm
and hand. (General anesthetic is not usually used because the
surgery does not take long and affects only the wrist or hand.)
cuff (tourniquet), similar to the kind used for taking blood pressure, is
placed on the upper arm. This is inflated before the procedure to decrease the
blood flow to the hand and wrist.
- An incision is made at the
ganglion site. The surgeon is careful to protect nerves,
ligaments, and blood vessels while removing the
ganglion sac and the connecting tissue.
- The incision is closed
with stitches, and a bandage and (in some cases) a splint are applied to
restrict movement and allow the incision to heal. Some surgeons encourage
moving your wrist 3 to 5 days after surgery to prevent stiffness.
Infection and injury to other tissues are rare, but
possible, risks of surgery.
Ganglions return in about 5% to 10% of people after surgery.1 This may happen if the connecting tissue is not completely
removed. New ganglions may also form in the area.
In a mucous cyst ganglion, bone spurs (small, bony growths that form
joint) are often present in the joint next to the
cyst, and removing bone spurs makes it less likely that the cyst will return.
The chance of infection is higher in mucous cysts.