What is a ganglion cyst?
A ganglion is a fluid filled sac which may arise close to any joint in the foot. It is commonly found as a lump or swelling which may or may not be painful. It occurs due to excessive lubricant fluid produced within a joint which then balloons out from the lining of the joint or tendons overlying the joint.
What causes a ganglion?
There is no definite known cause for a ganglion. It may be due to a weakness in the lining of the joint or tendon into which the fluid fills.
What are the symptoms caused by this condition?
A swelling or lump forms which may initially be painful as the tissue stretches, but the pain may eventually settle. The swelling may fluctuate in size and sometimes disappear only to reappear again.
How is this condition diagnosed?
Your consultant will examine your foot clinically and this usually makes the diagnosis clear. Sometimes an ultrasound scan may be necessary.
Can the condition worsen?
A ganglion is a harmless condition and patients seek advice for the nuisance factor. Difficulty with foot wear, occasional pain or cosmetic reasons are common causes for which patients seek medical intervention. No harm will come by leaving it well alone.
What treatment options are there?
A ganglion may settle down on its own and the swelling might disappear. Aspirating a ganglion, i.e. sticking a needle into it to remove the fluid may be done but there is a high chance that it will recur. If it gets to be very painful or irritating, it may be excised surgically.
Is surgery necessary?
Surgery is rarely necessary. The recurrence rate with surgery is approximately 20% and this should be borne in mind. If you do decide to proceed with having the ganglion removed, it is a minor procedure and will be done as a daycare. Depending on the size and location of the ganglion, it may be done under a general anaesthetic or even local anaesthetic (awake surgery). Mr Shariff will go through the pros and cons of surgery with you in greater detail.