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Ganglion Excision

This page will give you information about the procedure of an excision of a ganglion. Contact your doctor or a member of the healthcare team if you have any questions.

What is a ganglion?

A ganglion is pocket of fluid that forms under the skin and most commonly found near the wrist joint. They are also found on the ankle and foot. A ganglion is formed by fluid seeping from the joint or tendon via a narrow channel.


Figure 1
Typical position and appearence of a ganglion

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The main benefits

With surgery, it is unlikely the ganglion will return and the lump and any discomfort should cease.

Alternatives to an operation

If the ganglion is not troubling you it is best left alone as they will often disappear of their own accord. Fluid can be extracted from the ganglion using a needle. This can improve any discomfort for a time. A steroid known as cortisone can also be injected into the mass. Both of these treatments are often seen as temporary as the ganglion will usually come back.

How surgery is carried out

Several anaesthetic methods are available. The operation is short and is usually completed within 30 minutes. A small cut is made over the ganglion. The surgeon will then separate the ganglion from the blood vessels, nerves and tendons. Once this is done the ganglion is removed and the cut is closed.

Possible complications

General complications

  • Aches and pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site
  • Scarring

Specific complications

  • Artery damage
  • Impairment of the small nerves
  • Continued aching where the ganglion was
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of the limb (complex regional pain syndrome)

How soon will I recover?

In most cases, you will be sent home the day of the operation. To aid recovery and to ensure you get back to normal activities as soon as possible, regular exercise is essential. However, before you start always seek advice from your doctor or a member of the healthcare team. After the procedure, expect aching and stiffness, this should go fairly quickly. Sometimes ganglions can form again even after it has been successfully removed.

Summary

A ganglion is not a serious medical complaint. Surgery can remove the ganglion if it is causing you problems.

References: 

EIDO Healthcare Limited - The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare. 

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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