Children's Hospital Colorado

Ganglion Cyst

What is a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac that often develops near a joint or tendon. Ganglion cysts often develop on the hand or wrist. The cyst may change in size and sometimes will go away on its own. The cause is unknown.

An illustration of a hand showing the bones inside and a purple balloon shaped lump on the wrist identified as a ganglion cyst.

How is a ganglion cyst diagnosed?

A ganglion cyst is diagnosed by examination. Sometimes your surgeon will order an X-ray or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to get a closer look at the area.

How do you treat a ganglion cyst?

If the ganglion cyst isn't too large and isn't causing any pain, tenderness or trouble with movement, it may be left alone and watched.

If you choose to treat the ganglion cyst:

  • The fluid can be sucked out with a needle in the clinic. A small amount of local anesthetic is injected into the area to limit the amount of pain.
  • Surgery is needed to remove the cyst completely. The surgery is done in the operating room under general anesthesia to put the child to sleep. A small incision (cut) is made in the skin (about 1-1.5 inches long).

After the surgery:

  • The hand will have a bandage, and sometimes there will be a splint over the bandage.
  • The child is usually able to go home the same day.
  • Once the bandages are removed, your surgeon might suggest working with a hand therapist.

Why choose Children's Hospital Colorado for your child's ganglion cyst?

Our Hand and Upper Extremity Program team at Children's Colorado provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the care of your child. This means you have access to leading specialists from multiple departments who work together to treat your child.

Your child's care team includes pediatric experts from orthopedic surgery, physical medicine, rehabilitation, occupational therapy and nursing.