What is a ganglion?

A ganglion is a lump under the skin that contains fluid. 

Most ganglions form near the wrist joint (see figure 1). They are also found on the ankle and foot. The fluid in the ganglion comes from a joint or tendon through a narrow channel.

 

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

A ganglion will often disappear on its own after a year or two. If your ganglion is not causing much trouble, it is best to leave it alone.

The fluid can be taken out of the ganglion using a needle. This improves any discomfort for a while. Your doctor may also inject the ganglion with a steroid (cortisone). These treatments may help for a short time.

What does the operation involve?

A variety of anaesthetic techniques is possible. The operation usually takes between a quarter of an hour and half an hour.

Your surgeon will make a cut over the ganglion and separate the ganglion from the nearby tendons, nerves and blood vessels. They will then remove the ganglion.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring

Specific complications

  • Damage to an artery
  • Damage to small nerves
  • Continued aching where the ganglion was
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the limb (complex regional pain syndrome)

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Copyright © 2018 EIDO Healthcare Limited
The operation and treatment information on this webpage is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by the Horder Centre. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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