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Mucous Cyst Ganglions

Topic Overview

Mucous cyst ganglions usually occur when osteoarthritis symptoms develop, at middle age or older. This type of ganglion is more common in women than men.

Mucous cyst ganglions are found at the joint nearest the fingernail (distal interphalangeal [DIP] joint). The ganglion is firm and does not easily move under the skin. These ganglions may be painful and may break open, increasing the risk of infection. The fingernail may grow irregularly or be misshapen because the ganglion is near the growth cells for the fingernail.

Because of the risk of infection, a mucous cyst ganglion should not be broken open on purpose. Occasionally a ganglion opens on its own. Home treatment may be all that is needed.

Treatment measures include removing the ganglion fluid with a needle (aspiration) to temporarily shrink the cyst, injecting the cyst with hydrocortisone to reduce inflammation and possibly lower the chance that it will return, or removing the ganglion with surgery. The ganglion may return after treatment. Bone spurs (small, bony growths that form along a joint) are often present in the joint next to a mucous cyst, and removing the bone spurs makes it less likely that the cyst will return.

Infection is a possible complication of aspiration and surgical treatment.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Herbert von Schroeder, MD, MSc, FRCSC - Hand and Microvascular Surgery
Last Revised August 27, 2012

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