Ganglion removal

A Ganglion is a benign ball of fluid that grows from a tendon or joint. Some ganglions go away by themselves. Treatment options include ganglion removal or needle aspiration.

The symptoms of ganglions include:

  • Noticeable swelling or lump
  • The lump is able to change its size, including going away completely only to return
  • The lump is usually soft and immobile
  • In some cases, the lump is painful and aching
  • The ache and pain is made worse by moving any nearby joints
  • The affected tendon may cause a sensation of muscular weakness

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Causes

No one knows with certainty what causes a ganglion to form. Some of the theories include:

  • The body responds to injury, trauma or overuse by forming an internal ‘blister’
  • Small tears in the tendon membrane or joint capsule allow the contents to squeeze out
  • Ganglions on the outside of the ankle may be due to ankle sprains

Diagnosis

Ganglions are diagnosed using a number of tests including:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Ultrasound
  • X-rays
  • Needle aspiration (a fine needle is used to draw off fluid, which is then examined in a laboratory)

Conservative Management

Ganglions used to be treated by slamming them with a heavy book such as a Bible – which explains the term ‘Bible therapy’. This isn’t a good idea, as you could cause further injury. Medical treatment options include:

  • Close monitoring – if ganglions are not causing pain or interfering with movement, some doctors prefer to wait and see. The cyst may simply disappear on its own
  • Needle aspiration – one of the tests to diagnose ganglions involves drawing off the fluid with a fine needle. In many cases (around 75 per cent), this treatment empties the cyst and no further action is needed
  • Surgery – the cyst or cysts are surgically removed, usually by a specialist such as Dr Kim. Ganglions of the feet will usually require surgery

Surgical Management

Excision of ganglions can be performed safely under local anaesthetic. For those patients who do not like the thought of needles, the procedure can be performed as a day surgery under general anaesthetic.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner

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