What is a ganglion cyst removal?
Ganglion cyst removal, called a ganglionectomy, is surgery to remove a cyst from your hand, wrist, foot, or other part of your body. A ganglion cyst is a swollen, closed sac under the skin. The sac may develop from the sheath of a tendon or joint. Tendons connect muscle to bones, and the sheath is a thin sleeve of elastic tissue that wraps around the outside of a tendon. The cyst contains fluid similar to joint fluid, the clear fluid in knees, shoulders, and other joints.
After the surgery, the part of your body that had the cyst will have full strength and you will be able to use it without pain. The area may also feel and look better.
When is it used?
A ganglion cyst may be removed if:
- It’s causing severe pain.
- It’s getting bigger and is restricting joint motion.
- It’s pressing or pushing on vital organs, arteries, nerves, or veins.
Depending on where the cyst is, it might also be removed for cosmetic reasons.
Instead of this procedure, another possible treatment is having your healthcare provider take out the fluid with a needle or a syringe, with or without a steroid shot.
You may choose not to have treatment. Ask your healthcare provider about your choices for treatment and the risks.
How do I prepare for this procedure?
- Make plans for your care and recovery after you have the procedure. Find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure. Allow for time to rest and try to find other people to help with your day-to-day tasks while you recover.
- Tell your provider if you have any food or medicine allergies.
- Follow your provider's instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
- Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
- You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure, depending on what they are and when you need to take them. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take.
- Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
- Follow any instructions your healthcare provider may give you.
What happens during the procedure?
You will be given a local, regional, or general anesthetic to keep you from feeling pain during the procedure. Local or regional anesthetic numbs part of the body while you stay awake. You may also be given medicine to help you relax. General anesthesia relaxes your muscles and you will be asleep.
Your healthcare provider will cut around the cyst and remove it. Your provider will then close the cut with stitches.
What happens after the procedure?
You can go home the day you have the surgery. A bulky dressing, with or without a splint, may cover the area where you had the cyst to protect it.
Your healthcare provider will recommend when you should come back to get the stitches out, often in 1 to 2 weeks. You may have a scar after the surgery, but usually the scar gets less noticeable with time.
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your provider:
- How long it will take to recover
- What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
- How to take care of yourself at home
- What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.
What are the risks of this procedure?
Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure and any risks. Some possible risks include:
- Anesthesia has some risks. Discuss these risks with your healthcare provider.
- The cyst may come back.
- You may have an infection or bleeding.
- In rare cases, nerves or blood vessels in the area may be damaged.
There is risk with every treatment or procedure. Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.
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