Immobilization of the Wrist After Dorsal Wrist Ganglion Excision: A Systematic Review and Survey of Current Practice

Hand (N Y). 2023 Mar;18(2):254-263. doi: 10.1177/15589447211014631. Epub 2021 Jun 6.


Background: Postoperative care after dorsal wrist ganglion (DWG) excision is highly varied. The effect of immobilization of the wrist on patient outcomes has not yet been examined.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature was performed to determine whether wrist immobilization after DWG surgical excision is beneficial. A survey of hand surgeons in Canada was performed to sample existing practice variations in current immobilization protocols after DWG excision.

Results: A systematic review yielded 11 studies that rigidly immobilized the wrist (n = 5 open excision, n = 5 arthroscopic excision, n = 1 open or arthroscopic excision), 10 studies that used dressings to partially limit wrist motion (n = 5 open, n = 5 arthroscopic), 1 study (open) that did either of the above, and 2 studies (arthroscopic) that did not restrict wrist motion postoperatively. This ranged from 48 hours to 2 weeks in open DWG excision and 5 days to 3 weeks in arthroscopic DWG excision. The survey of Canadian hand surgeons had a similarly divided result of those who chose to immobilize the wrist fully (41%), partially (14%), or not at all (55%). Most surgeons surveyed who immobilized the wrist postoperatively did so for 1 to 2 weeks.

Conclusion: The systematic review and survey of Canadian hand surgeons reveal that hand surgeons are divided regarding the need to immobilize the wrist after DWG excision. In terms of functional outcome, there is no compelling data to suggest 1 strategy is superior. The time frame for immobilization when undertaken was short at 2 weeks or less.The systematic review is registered in the PROSPERO database (PROSPERO 2016:CRD42016050877).

Keywords: anatomy; diagnosis; outcomes; research and health outcomes; soft tissue reconstruction; specialty; surgery; trauma; treatment; wrist.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy / methods
  • Canada
  • Ganglion Cysts* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Wrist* / surgery