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Ganglion Cyst in the Wrist and Hand

A ganglion cyst is a common, non-cancerous and fluid-filled cyst (growth). They are most often found on the top of the wrist but can also be found under the wrist, or at the base or end joint of a finger. They can grow larger with increased wrist activity and get smaller with rest. The cyst usually forms a noticeable lump and can come and go with no other symptoms, though sometimes it does press on nerves, causing pain. There is not a known cause, though women are more affected than men and they are more common in younger people age 15-40, as well as gymnasts, who frequently apply stress to their wrists.

Diagnosing Ganglion Cyst

Physical Exam

Your physician will ask you a series of questions and is likely to do a physical exam. The physical exam will including examining any specific areas of concern, especially as they relate to the reason for your visit to the office.

X-Rays

A form of electromagnetic radiation with very high frequency and energy. X-rays are used to examine and make images of things such as the bones and organs inside the body.

MRI

This test uses a magnetic field, radiofrequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed images of body structures in multiple places. You may be injected with a contrast agent for better imaging, and you will most likely lie on a moving table as pictures are taken. MRI is a more detailed tool than x-ray and ultrasound and for certain organs or areas of the body, it provides better images than CT. MRI may not be recommended if you have a pacemaker or other metal implants.

Ultrasound

Diagnostic ultrasound, also called sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, is an imaging method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within the body. The images can provide valuable information for diagnosing and treating a variety of diseases and conditions. Most ultrasound examinations are done using a sonar device outside the body, though some ultrasound examinations involve placing a device inside the body.

Treatments for Ganglion Cyst

Bracing/Splinting

A splint, also known as a brace, is a rigid device that holds a body part in place so that it is unable to move. It is usually used as a treatment for a suspected fracture, sprain/ligament damage, or other injury. It can be applied by first responders in the event of trauma. Splints can reduce pain, aid in proper healing, and can also prevent further injury. They can be worn for several days or weeks to hold the body part in place for the duration of healing time.

Aspiration for Ganglion Cysts

Used when ganglion cysts in the wrist and hand cause a great deal of pain or significantly limit daily activities. Most often performed on ganglion cysts on top of the wrist, the cyst is punctured with a needle so that the fluid can be withdrawn. Many times, aspiration doesn't completely eliminate the cyst, which, like a weed, will grow back if the root is not removed.

Surgery for Ganglion Cysts

Surgery may be an option for patients whose symptoms are not relieved by nonsurgical methods, or if the ganglion returns after one or more aspiration procedures. This surgical procedure is called an excision. It involves removing the cyst as well as part of the involved joint capsule or tendon sheath, which is considered the root of the ganglion. There is a small chance the ganglion may return following an excision.

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