A ganglion cyst is a harmless, sometimes painful, fluid-filled swelling which usually develops near a joint or tendon.
A ganglion cyst can vary in size from a pea to a golf ball. They consist of synovial fluid, the thick, gelatinous fluid which surrounds joints and tendons, and they feel and look like a smooth lump under the skin.
While they can occur adjacent to any joint, they are especially common on the wrist, hand and fingers.
While ganglion cysts are harmless, they can nevertheless be painful. If they are not painful they can safely go untreated and may disappear on their own, which can take a number of years.
Treatment is only recommended if there is pain or if the ganglion cyst is affecting the movement of a joint – this may be available on the NHS but increasingly less so.
You may wish to have a ganglion cyst removed for cosmetic reasons – this would not be funded by the NHS.
There are two main techniques for treatment – aspiration and surgical removal:
Aspiration takes a matter of minutes, and depending on the technique used surgical removal can take between 20 and 45 minutes.
For aspiration and surgery using local anaesthetic there will be no need for a stay in hospital. If you have a general anaesthetic you may need to stay for a night depending on the time of day of your operation and your reaction to the anaesthetic.
If you have had a surgical removal, your wound will be stitched and bandaged. If surgery was performed on your hand or wrist than elevation and gentle movement of your fingers will help swelling and aid healing.
Ganglion cyst removal is a minor operation and as such rarely has risks or complications. If you have had a surgical removal you may experience:
Where ganglion cyst removal is not available on the NHS, or where the number of NHS procedures available has been reduced and has resulted in a longer waiting time, or if you are choosing to have the ganglion cyst removed for cosmetic reasons, you can choose to pay for your treatment yourself via our self pay option. You may also want to explore privately funding your treatment for other reasons which are personal to your circumstances.
Self pay is available if you find you are not eligible for NHS-funded care and do not have private medical insurance.
You will need an open referral letter from your GP (we can help you with this). Because we don’t include all of the costly extras you may associate with private hospital treatment, paying for yourself could cost you considerably less than you might imagine too. There are also financing options available, to help you spread the cost.
We continue to support NHS England during the Coronavirus crisis by providing the additional capacity it needs to treat non COVID-19 patients, but are now planning a gradual return to treating our own elective patients.