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Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are very common and may occur at any age. A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled bump under the skin that develops on a tendon or near a joint. They are not cancer and are not caused by arthritis. Ganglion cysts in kids and teens normally occur on the top or bottom of the wrist or palm of the hand.


Typically, these are not painful and do not cause skin irritation or redness. They may become larger or smaller and some disappear over time. Sometimes they may cause pain. The size of the ganglion does not affect how we would treat it.


Anyone can develop a ganglion cyst and there is no known exact cause. They are not usually related to other conditions and do not tend to run in families.


X-rays do not diagnose ganglion cysts. The fluid-filled ganglion cyst does not show up on x-ray. Your provider might still order an x-ray to be sure that there is no other bone or joint problem. Ultrasound might be used to confirm that the bump is fluid-filled and is not a solid growth.


Treatment may consist of just watching and waiting, because these are not harmful. If the bump is bothersome, some providers might offer to drain the fluid out of the cyst with a needle in the office by numbing the skin. However, the cyst often comes back with this treatment.

Your provider might offer surgical removal of the cyst in the operating room as an outpatient surgery. This usually has to be scheduled separately and your child usually goes home the same day after the surgery. Your child will follow up with the surgeon after the surgery and may have physical therapy appointments for their hand. Most cysts do not come back after surgical removal.

Learn more about Hand Surgery at Children's Mercy.