Ganglions in the Hand and Wrist: Advances in 2 Decades

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2023 Jan 15;31(2):e58-e67. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-22-00105.


Ganglion cysts represent the most common soft-tissue mass in the hand and wrist. Ganglion cysts are most commonly encountered at the dorsal or volar aspects of the wrist, although cysts may arise from the flexor tendon sheath, interphalangeal joint, and extensor tendons. Intraosseous and intraneural ganglion cysts have also been described. Diagnosis of ganglion cysts relies primarily on history and physical examination. Transillumination and aspiration of masses may be useful adjuncts to diagnosis. Imaging such as radiography and ultrasonography may be indicated to evaluate for associated conditions, such as degenerative joint disease, or to rule out a solid or heterogeneous mass. Advanced imaging such as MRI is generally reserved for patients in whom occult ganglions, intraosseous ganglions, or solid tumors, including sarcoma, remain a concern. Treatment of ganglion cysts includes observation, aspiration or puncture with possible corticosteroid injection, and surgical excision. Nonsurgical management may result in cyst resolution in over 50% of patients. Surgical excision is associated with recurrence rates of 7% to 39%. Advances in surgical techniques have allowed surgeons to conduct arthroscopic ganglion excision, with recurrence rates similar to those of open management. This study highlights the advances in diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes that have taken place over the past 2 decades for this common condition affecting the hand and wrist in the adult population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ganglion Cysts* / diagnosis
  • Ganglion Cysts* / surgery
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Ultrasonography
  • Wrist Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Wrist* / diagnostic imaging
  • Wrist* / surgery