Your doctor may ask you how long you have had the ganglion, whether it changes in size, and whether it is painful. Pressure may be applied to identify any tenderness. A penlight may be held up to the cyst to see whether light shines through. X-rays may be taken to rule out other conditions, such as arthritis or a bone tumor. Sometimes, an MRI or ultrasound is needed to find a ganglion cyst that is not visible.
Nonsurgical treatment leaves the outer shell and the stalk of the ganglion intact, so it may reform and reappear. This recurrence rate is 50-60%.
The ganglion cyst can be removed through outpatient surgery, typically with local or regional anesthetic. However, this is no guarantee that the cyst will not grow again. Recurrence rate after surgery is 5-10%. Surgery may also include removing part of the involved joint capsule or tendon sheath. There may be some tenderness, discomfort, and swelling after surgery. Normal activities usually may be resumed two to six weeks after surgery.
For additional information about treatment, we have included this complete patient eduction sheet as a pdf to view, download and print: