Thumbnail image of: Ganglion Cyst: Illustration

Ganglion Cyst Removal

What is a ganglion cyst removal?

Ganglion cyst removal is surgery to remove a cyst from your hand, wrist, foot, or other part of your body.

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac under the skin. The sac is attached to a joint or to the covering over a tendon. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that attach muscle to bone. The cyst can be the size of a small pea or as large as a golf ball. Ganglion cysts are most often on the wrist or hand, but may also be on the foot.

When is it used?

A ganglion cyst may be removed if:

  • It causes severe pain.
  • It limits joint motion.
  • It presses or pushes on nerves or blood vessels.

Depending on the size and location of the cyst, it might also be removed for cosmetic reasons.

Ask your healthcare provider about your choices for treatment and the risks.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Make plans for your care and recovery after you have the procedure. Find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure. Allow for time to rest and try to find other people to help with your day-to-day tasks while you recover.
  • Tell your provider if you have any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take. Some products may increase your risk of side effects. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow any instructions your healthcare provider may give you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

You will be given a local, regional, or general anesthetic to keep you from feeling pain during the procedure.

  • Local anesthesia numbs part of your body where you will have the procedure.
  • Regional anesthesia numbs part of your body while you stay awake. If you have regional anesthesia, you may also be given medicine to help you relax. The medicine can make you drowsy or you may fall asleep before the procedure.
  • General anesthesia relaxes your muscles and you will be asleep. A breathing tube is usually put in your throat when you have general anesthesia.

Your healthcare provider will cut around the cyst and remove it. Your healthcare provider may also use arthroscopy, a type of surgery done with a small scope inserted into the area to see and remove the cyst. Your provider will then close the cut with stitches.

What happens after the procedure?

You can go home the day you have the surgery. A dressing may cover the area where you had the cyst to protect it. You may also have a splint to protect the area. After surgery, keep your affected arm or leg up on pillows when you sit or lie down. This will help keep swelling down.

Your healthcare provider will tell you when you should come back to get the stitches out.

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Ask your provider:

  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • You may have problems with anesthesia.
  • The cyst may come back.
  • You may have infection or bleeding.
  • In rare cases, nerves or blood vessels in the area may be damaged.

Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-14
Last reviewed: 2014-10-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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