Creating Waves of Awareness
Quite a number of patients visiting a surgical unit end up with a diagnosis of a ganglion. It is a small and semi-hard bump situated above a muscle tendon or in a capsule that encloses a joint. It is also known as synovial hernia or a synovial cyst. All ganglions are non-cancerous.
A cyst means a fluid filled cavity. Ganglions are filled with a thick, jelly-like fluid. Ganglions particularly are seen in patients within the age group of 20 to 40 years of age. Mostly they are found on the hand or wrist, thus, are easily noticed and can set the alarm within. They are more common in those who use those group of muscles more - like in case of wrist or hand ganglions, it will be more common within handball, squash or tennis players or those bikers who ride their bikes accelerating the throttle constantly. Runners or athletes can get them on the foot muscle tendons, since those are the group of muscles they need to use more often.
The cause is usually mild sprains or repeated injuries to the tendon causing irritation or tearing off of the thin membrane covering it. Once torn, the vitalizing fluid leaks into the sac that swells up and takes form of a ganglion. They are usually painless but can limit the range of motion at the affected site. Though they may not give rise to any pain, they definitely can produce a discomfort. Ganglions also can be internally developing, thus causing just some soreness or a dull aching sensation, but not making the mass palpable during the examination. Calcification of a ganglion is very rare.
The diagnosis of ganglion is usually easier through a physical examination to aid to clinical features. Imaging techniques like ultrasound or x-ray or at times a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be required for the suspected internal ganglions. The fluid within the cyst can be aspirated and evaluated for cytological assessment.
Most of the ganglions will disappear without treatment and on the other hand, many will reappear despite treatment. Surgical excision is needed if the cyst is causing pressure over the adjacent vital structures like nerves or blood vessels.