BMC’s Yawkey building doors are now closed as an entrance as part of our ongoing efforts to enhance our campus and provide you with the best clinical care.

All patients and visitors on our main campus must enter our hospital via Shapiro, Menino, or Moakley buildings, where they will be greeted by team members at a new centralized check-in desk before continuing to the hospital. We are excited to welcome you and appreciate your patience as we improve our facilities.

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.


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.


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.


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


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.

Departments and Programs Who Treat This Condition


Orthopedic Surgery

The Department of Orthopedic Surgery offers orthopedic services from head to toe for acute injuries, as well as chronic conditions of the musculoskeletal system, to help you get b…

Plastic Surgery

Our team provides a range of services including gender affirming surgery, reconstructive surgery, and cosmetic procedures, to help you feel like your best self.