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Volar wrist ganglion

What is it? 

A ganglion is a thin wall cyst containing jelly like material. It can arise from a joint or tendon sheath. It is usually degenerative. Occasionally it may follow trauma. This ganglion can normally been seen or felt over the front of the wrist. It may fluctuate in size and cause pain that radiates up into the arm or down into the hand.

What is it? 

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How is it diagnosed? 

Volar wrist ganglion is diagnosed on the basis of the history described in the previous answer and by clinical examination. If the ganglion is small, an MRI or ultrasound scan can confirm the diagnosis.

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What is my approach to treatment? 

Simple aspiration has an extremely high recurrence rate. This ganglion often becomes intertwined with branches of the radial artery and radial nerve therefore these are at risk of damage. Careful open surgery is the preferred method for removal.

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What does an operation involve? 

Surgery is normally carried out as a day case under general anaesthetic. A tourniquet is applied to the upper arm, similar to a blood pressure cuff. This provides a clear view of the operative field for surgery. The ganglion is dissected carefully from branches of the superficial radial artery and radial nerve. After excision the tourniquet is released and any bleeding controlled. The skin is closed with non-absorbable sutures. A long acting local anaesthetic injection is then administered to provide pain-relief. Finally, a dressing and bandaging are applied.

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What is the recovery period? 

Once the local anaesthetic has worn off, normally 6 to 8 hours, simple analgesics and anti-inflammatory tablets may be used for pain. The hand should be kept elevated as much as possible during the first week after the operation, although finger movements are to be encouraged. A high-arm sling may be useful for this purpose. Bandaging is reduced at 10 to 14 days. Sutures are removed in the clinic at two weeks. It should then be possible to wet the hand. Prior to this it’s possible to shower by keeping the extremity dry with a plastic bag secured over the limb using an elastic band or a purpose made shower cover. Most pain and swelling will have settled within four weeks after surgery. Driving is usually possible after seven days. When a patient is ready to return to work depends on their specific job role and may also vary from individual to individual. It may be possible to return to light keyboard work towards the end of the first week. Heavy manual work should be avoided for 3 to 4 weeks.

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Are there any possible complications? 

Most patients are satisfied with the final result. However there are always risks involved as with any treatment; Infection: 2%, Chronic regional pain syndrome: 2-5%, Recurrence: 10%, Scar sensitivity: 5%, Nerve injury: 2-5%, Arterial injury: 2%

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Click to download the Patient Information Sheet