Occult scapholunate ganglion: a cause of dorsal radial wrist pain

J Hand Surg Am. 1999 Mar;24(2):225-31. doi: 10.1053/jhsu.1999.0225.


There are multiple causes for chronic dorsal wrist pain over the scapholunate ligament, including occult dorsal carpal ganglion cyst, scaphoid impaction syndrome, dorsal carpal capsulitis, distal posterior interosseous nerve syndrome, and dynamic scapholunate ligament instability. Patients with such pain often have normal x-rays. A retrospective study of 21 patients undergoing surgical exploration for chronic dorsal radial wrist pain who had no palpable cyst and normal x-rays revealed that 18 of the patients had occult scapholunate ganglion cysts or myxomatous degeneration within the scapholunate ligament. All had failed long-term conservative management. Surgery involved an approach through Langer's lines, resection of a large triangular portion of the capsule between the dorsal intercarpal and radiotriquetral ligaments, and tangential debridement of the area of myxoid degeneration proximal to the distal 2 to 3 mm of dorsal scapholunate interosseous ligament. None of the patients had scapholunate instability or scaphoid impacting syndrome. Of the 18 patients with histologically confirmed myxomatous changes in the scapholunate ligament, 16 had an excellent outcome as defined by rigorous criteria; 1 had a good outcome. There was 1 patient with a poor result. A compelling argument is made for surgical exploration of the scapholunate joint in patients with persistent dorsal radial wrist pain and scapholunate point tenderness.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carpal Bones*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Synovial Cyst / complications*
  • Synovial Cyst / surgery
  • Wrist* / surgery