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Ganglions Workup

  • Author: Valerie E Cothran, MD; Chief Editor: Harris Gellman, MD  more...
Updated: Jul 07, 2016

Imaging Studies

For wrist lesions, standard posteroanterior (PA), lateral, and oblique views should be obtained. Mucous cysts should be evaluated with standard PA, lateral, and oblique plain radiographs of the involved digit. On radiographs, interosseous ganglions may be centrally or eccentrically located in the involved bone. Radiographs may also demonstrate a juxtaosseous ganglion that has penetrated the bone. The lesions are radiolucent with a sclerotic border. These ganglions usually occur near a joint surface.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasonography may be employed when the diagnosis is in question (eg, with occult ganglions).[12, 13, 14, 15] MRI reveals ganglions not seen on conventional radiographs. Axial, coronal, or sagittal computed tomography (CT) may be helpful in localizing occult ganglion cysts. Bone scans may help in determining if intraosseous masses are metabolically active and capable of causing pain.


Other Tests

The finger extension test is an important tool in the diagnosis of ganglions.[16]

Fluid evacuated from ganglion cysts consists of mucin composed of glucosamine, albumin, globulin, and hyaluronic acid. Histologic sections of the cyst reveal compressed collagen fibers and a few flattened cells without evidence of epithelial or synovial lining. Multiple clefts may be present off the main cystic duct. No inflammatory or mitotic activity is seen.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Valerie E Cothran, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Assistant Team Physician, University of Maryland

Valerie E Cothran, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Thomas R Hunt III, MD Professor and Chairman, Joseph Barnhart Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine

Thomas R Hunt III, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Orthopaedic Association, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, Southern Orthopaedic Association, AO Foundation, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Association for Hand Surgery, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Mid-America Orthopaedic Association

Disclosure: Received royalty from Tornier for independent contractor; Received ownership interest from Tornier for none; Received royalty from Lippincott for independent contractor.

Chief Editor

Harris Gellman, MD Consulting Surgeon, Broward Hand Center; Voluntary Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Plastic Surgery, Departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Surgery, University of Miami, Leonard M Miller School of Medicine; Clinical Professor of Surgery, Nova Southeastern School of Medicine

Harris Gellman, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Arkansas Medical Society, Florida Medical Association, Florida Orthopaedic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Peter M Murray, MD Professor and Chair, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine; Director of Education, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Jacksonville; Consultant, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville; Consulting Staff, Nemours Children's Clinic and Wolfson's Children's Hospital

Peter M Murray, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, Orthopaedic Research Society, Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Association for Hand Surgery, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Florida Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Anthony Schena, MD Consulting Surgeon, ProSports Orthopedics; Associate Professor, Department of Orthopedics, Tufts Medical School

Anthony Schena, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and Arthroscopy Association of North America

Disclosure: genzyme Honoraria Speaking and teaching

Robert Q Terrill, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical Center

Robert Q Terrill, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, and Massachusetts Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Typical appearance of dorsal ganglion cyst.
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