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Ganglions & Cysts

What is a ganglion?

A ganglion is a fluid filled sac containing a clear jelly like fluid.

They commonly occur around the wrist or in the hand. They may fluctuate in size and some patients dislike the appearance of them. Occasionally they ache or are painful.

Do ganglia disappear by themselves?

In children, ganglia tend to resolve more quickly than in adults. In adults just over half disappear over a 6 year period if left alone.


Ganglia can be left to resolve spontaneously, aspirated or surgically removed. There is approximately a 30% recurrence rate following surgery. The recurrence rate is higher following aspiration and is approximately 57%.

Mucous Cysts

These are small ganglia that occur towards the end of the fingers around the base of the nail. They can be painful if knocked and occasionally discharge a clear jelly like fluid.

Sometimes they can cause ridges on the nail as a result of destroying the underlying nail bed.

They are associated with osteoarthritis in the end finger joints. It is possible to remove troublesome mucous cysts under a local anaesthetic. Following surgery 2 out of every 3 patients find that the cyst has completely disappeared.

There is a scar which usually settles to a thin white line after several months.

Usually the nail reverts to its normal shape. Occasionally the nail can remain ridged or split if the cyst or its removal has caused permanent damage to the nail bed.

Get in Touch

Contact Miss Mary O’Brien for more information on Cosmetic or Hand Surgery.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
The Royal College of Surgeons of England Bapras The British Society for Surgery of the Hand

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