What is a ganglion cyst of wrist?

Ganglion is the medical term for overlegs. A ganglion is "an encapsulated tumour surrounded by a membrane in the vicinity of tendons or tendon plates". Wrist ganglia are tissue cavities near the wrist. The cavities are filled with viscous transparent yellowish liquid. Overlegs are by far the most common benign tumors of the hand. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are the most frequently affected. Ganglia occur in sixty to seventy percent of cases at the stretch-side wrist. A stalk-like connection to the wrist can often be found. If the overbone is close to the artery, a pulsation can be felt. It is assumed that increased strain on the wrist leads to an increased formation of synovial fluid. The fluid leads to a protrusion of the wrist capsule at a weak point. Overlegs become noticeable as painless swelling that develops over weeks or months. Often the swelling on the wrist is perceived as unattractive, pain is less often the problem. During the examination, the appearance of a ganglion can usually be clearly assigned. A magnetic resonance or ultrasound examination is rarely necessary.

What is a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion is a benign fluid-filled tissue cavity of the hand. The causes leading to the formation of a ganglion are unknown. A ganglion has a connection to the joint and is filled with synovial fluid. It can be distinguished from other swellings, e.g. of the tendon sheaths, by careful examination. Excess legs often border directly on important vessels and nerves. They are therefore freed from the important structures of the hand using microsurgical techniques and finally removed.
After careful removal via a small access, the patients usually experience a clear alleviation of symptoms. Of all treatment methods, surgical removal is the safest way to ensure that the overbone does not reoccur.

How can you prepare for surgery on a wrist overbone?

  • All your questions about possible complications and alternative treatments should be answered before the operation.
  • Keep nicotine and alcohol consumption to a minimum.
  • Blood-thinning medication (e.g. ASS, Thomapyrin®) must be discontinued at least ten days before the operation after consultation with your doctor.
  • Vitamin preparations (A, E) and dietary supplements (omega-3 fatty acids, St. John's wort preparations, etc.) must be stopped four weeks before the operation.
  • Surgery limits the ability to travel by air. Therefore, do not plan any professional or private air travel during the four weeks following the operation.
  • At home, prepare ice cubes or cooling pads to cool your skin after the operation.

How is a ganglion cyst removed?

The outpatient procedure lasts about twenty minutes under local anaesthesia.

What do you need to watch out for after removing a ganglion?

  • Your well-being and the outcome of the operation will be monitored regularly.
  • The elevation and cooling of the hand during the first three days promotes swelling reduction and wound healing.
  • Perform complete fist closure and finger extension exercises several times per hour.
  • From the third postoperative week onwards, several daily circular massages for a few minutes, along and across the course of the scar with oily creams (e.g. Bepanthen® ointment or Linola® fat) help to create inconspicuous scars.
  • The skin threads are removed after ten to fourteen days.

Author's statement

Author: Stéphane Stahl, MD, PhD. There are no financial relationships with the pharmaceutical or medical device industries that could have influenced the above text. Any reproduction, even partial, is permitted for personal use only. All texts used on this website are protected by copyright.


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