How are ganglion cysts treated?
Up to half of ganglion cysts disappear on their own over time. Because of this, and because ganglion cysts are not associated with other, more serious diseases, your doctor may not recommend treatment. Instead, if the cyst is not causing any discomfort, your doctor may simply choose to observe it over time.
When ganglion cysts cause discomfort or affect your activity and range of motion, there are several treatment options. One approach is to place the area affected by the cyst, such as a wrist or finger, in a splint. The splint will help keep the area from being aggravated by further activity and allow the swelling to go down. (Swelling in ganglion cysts is often aggravated by using the joint it is affecting.) This approach can also help provide comfort while other treatment options are being considered. Your doctor may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen to help ease any discomfort.
The most common non-surgical treatment for ganglion cysts is aspiration, in which a hole is made in the cyst and the fluid is sucked out. This method does not remove the entire cyst, just its contents. Aspiration can provide immediate relief to the discomfort caused by ganglion cysts. However, because this method does not remove the entire cyst, ganglion cysts often return.
What is a ganglionectomy?
The most effective treatment for a ganglion cyst, especially if it keeps coming back, is surgery to remove it. This surgery, called a ganglionectomy, is usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient goes home the day of the surgery. Ganglionectomies are more successful than other treatments because the entire cyst, including the stalk-like pedicle, is removed. This greatly reduces the chance of the cyst growing back.
After a ganglionectomy, you may have swelling and tenderness as the surgery site heals. Full recovery from a ganglionectomy usually takes two to six weeks. After the surgery, the medical staff will send you home with information on how to tend to your surgery site and how to reduce the risk of infection. A ganglionectomy is a very safe surgery, and complications are rare.