Ganglion

What is a ganglion?

Ganglions are common in the wrist, hand and fingers.  They are fluid filled sacs which sit near joints or tendons.  There is no understanding about how these occur but it is possible that there is a small tear, from an internal injury, in part of the joint or tendon structures which allows a leaking of fluid.  They look like a speech bubble with a stem and ball (sac).  They can occur at any age.

What can I do about my ganglion?

Ganglions often change in size and can also come and go.  They are not cancerous or harmful, but can be irritating and uncomfortable.  It is tempting to aspirate the ganglion (take the fluid out of it to make the sac decompress).  This can be done but recurrence is very common.  If the ganglion does not cause any symptoms and does not block movement, it can be left alone, as it may disappear over time.  If, however, it is causing difficulties most can be surgically removed.

Should I have surgery?

Ganglionectomies are carried out when the ganglion is painful, restricting movement or limiting function.

Specialist surgeons are available for you and they may be either plastic surgeons or orthopaedic surgeons with a specialist training in the upper limb. Successful surgery is best achieved by removing both the sac and the stem of the ganglion. Results are often good but there is always a small recurrence rate.

What happens after surgery?

You may be referred to a hand therapist. Your hand therapist will advise on wound and scar care, management of swelling, movement, strengthening and splinting to manage discomfort as appropriate. Depending on the ganglion and its location, recovery time can vary. Therapy is usually minimal after this procedure.