A ganglion is a swelling filled with jelly-like fluid that sticks out from a joint or tendon, most commonly at the wrist, ankle or base of the palm. They also can occur in the palm, pearl ganglions, or around the nail bed, mucous cysts. Ganglions are benign and only require treatment if they are causing pain or limiting function or when other treatments such as draining have failed to work. However, they often resolve spontaneously.
The operation to remove a ganglion is often performed as a day-case, which means there is no need to stay overnight in hospital, under either general or local anesthetic. The surgeon will make a cut over the ganglion and remove it from the joint or tendon without disturbing the surrounding structure. The cut will be closed with stitches.
The operated area will be bandaged. If the ganglion was on the hand the bandage will ensure the fingers are mobile. The wound will take approximately two weeks to heal and should be kept clean, dry and covered up until this has occurred.
Removing a ganglion is generally considered to be a safe procedure, however all surgery carries an element of risk. Complications are rare but include excessive swelling, delayed healing and damage to the surrounding skin nerves. Occasionally ganglions reoccur in the same place but this is not common. The consultant will discuss the risks and advantages of this surgery in detail with the patient.