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Mucoid Cyst

Other common names


Who does it affect?

Usually females over 40 years.

Why does it happen?

Usually females over 40 years.


A small lump that develops on the back of the joint to one side.  The joint itself may be stiff and tender. The outline is quite smooth and may feel tense like a small ball or balloon (cystic).  The overlying skin may become thin and even breakdown.


A mucoid cyst has quite typical features both in its location and appearance. 

An x-ray will usually show wear and tear (osteoarthritis) in the joint.

Non-surgical treatment

If it does not cause a problem it is often recommended to do nothing.

Surgical treatment

If causing problems, surgery will be recommended.  Surgery is done as a day case procedure usually under local anaesthetic and takes about 10 minutes.  Some people prefer general anaesthetic.

Local anaesthetic is given at the base of the finger.  Once numb the skin is cut and the skin flap elevated.  The ganglion is dissected taking care not to puncture it.  The base of the ganglion is identified and excised.  A small extra bony area (osteophyte) is seen and needs to be removed.  The skin is sutured and a bulky dressing is applied.

Post-surgery rehabilitation

You can go home soon after the operation. The anaesthetic will wear off after approximately 6 hours.  Simple analgesia (pain killers) usually controls the pain and should be started before the anaesthetic has worn off.  The hand should be elevated as much as possible for the first 5 days to prevent the hand and fingers swelling.  Gently bend and straighten the fingers from day 1. The dressing is removed after 2 days.  The wound is cleaned and redressed with a simple dressing.  The sutures are removed at about 10 days.

Return to normal routine

Keep the wound dry until the stitches are out at 10 days.

Return to driving: The hand needs to have full control of the steering wheel and left hand the gear stick.  You are advised to avoid driving for at least 7 days or until the sutures (stitches) are removed.

Return to work: Everyone has different work environments.  Returning to heavy manual labour should be prevented for approximately 4 - 6 weeks. Early return to heavy work may cause the tendons and nerve to scar into the released ligament.  You will be given advice on your own particular situation.


Overall over 95% are happy with the result. However complications can occur.

General risks (less than 1% each):

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy - RSD (<1% people suffer a reaction to surgery with painful stiff hands, which can occur with any hand surgery from a minor procedure to a complex reconstruction).

Specific risks:

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