Aspiration of a Ganglion

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Topic Overview

A nonsurgical method of treating a ganglion is to drain the fluid from (aspirate) the ganglion sac.

Your doctor can do this in the office using the following procedure:

  • The ganglion area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution.
  • A local anesthetic is injected into the ganglion area to numb the area.
  • When the area is numb, the ganglion sac is punctured with a sterile needle.
  • The fluid is drawn out of the ganglion sac.
  • The ganglion collapses.
  • A bandage and, in some cases, a splint are used for a few days to limit movement and prevent the ganglion sac from filling again.

Treating a ganglion by draining the fluid with a needle may not work because the ganglion sac remains intact and can fill again, causing the ganglion to return. For this reason, your doctor may puncture the sac with the needle 3 or 4 times so the sac will collapse completely. Even then, the ganglion is likely to come back.

Infection after draining the ganglion fluid is a possible complication of this procedure.

Ganglions on the wrist may return in up to 9 out of 10 people using nonsurgical treatment, such as aspiration.footnote 1

Related Information



  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Ganglion of the wrist and hand. In JF Sarwark, ed., Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 4th ed., pp. 488–492. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerHerbert von Schroeder, MD, MSc, FRCSC - Hand and Microvascular Surgery

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014