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Excision of ganglion

If you are considering having your ganglion removed or have an operation planned, it is important to know all you can about it. This includes:


  • why you need this operation

  • what it will be like

  • how it will affect you

  • what risks are involved

  • any alternatives.


See also:



The information here is a guide to common medical practice. Each hospital and doctor will have slightly different ways of doing things when treating a ganglion, so you should follow their guidance where it is different from the information given here. Because all patients, conditions and treatments vary it cannot cover everything. Use this information when making your choice of ganglion treatment with your doctors. You should mention any worries you have. Remember that you can ask for more information at any time.



What is the problem?

You have a lump on your wrist. It may cause you slight pain or discomfort. It is called a ganglion. A ganglion usually occurs on the back of the wrist but can occur on the front.

Excision of ganglion


What is a ganglion?

A ganglion is an abnormal but harmless swelling, called a cyst. It is filled with thick jelly-like material. They usually appear next to a joint or tendon, most commonly in the wrist. We do not know why they occur. Ganglia can affect both adults and children.


The aims

We aim to remove your ganglion.


The benefits

The operation should remove your lump. If you have any discomfort associated with the lump, this may also go.

Excision of ganglion 2

Are there any alternative treatments?

We can perform a needle aspiration of your ganglion in the outpatient clinic. This is drawing off the contents of the ganglion with a needle and syringe. This cures up to 60% of patients. In the remaining 40% of patients the ganglion re-fills.


Some surgeons may use keyhole surgery to remove a ganglion.  Although the scar is smaller than with standard open surgery, the chance of the ganglion coming back is higher.


What if you do nothing?  

Often, ganglions go away without treatment.  Your ganglion may get bigger or remain the same if you do nothing.


Who should have it done?

If we have tried curing your ganglion with a needle and syringe but it has returned, and you want to get rid of the lump, then you should consider this operation.


Who should not have it done?

You should not have the operation:


  • if you are unwilling to accept the risk that the lump can come back after surgery in one in 10 people (10%)
  • if you are not prepared to have a scar that may be three or four centimetres long.


You should not have a general anaesthetic for the operation if you have major medical problems, such as high blood pressure or a bad heart. We may be able to do the operation using local or a regional anaesthetic instead.


Author: Mr Boyd Goldie MBBS FRCS BSC DHMSA. Consultant in orthopaedics & trauma.

© Dumas Ltd 2006

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