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Ganglion Cyst Surgery Questions

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Hi I am having Ganglion Cyst surgery this Thursday and I am extremely nervous. I never had surgery before and I am afraid on the pain that I will be experiencing afterwards. I am a college student and this surgery could not come at worse time "Finals Week" but the pain has got so bad that I had to get it removed ASAP. I guess the two questions that I have are 1. Will the pain be so server that I wont be able to write for my 3 finals on friday (the following day) and 2. How long is recovery time? And how is your wrist bandaged up?
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replied December 14th, 2011
Especially eHealthy

Having surgery during finals week, probably wasn't the greatest timing. You couldn't have put it off just one more week?

You do not say where your ganglion is, but for this I will assume it is in the most common location, the back of the hand/wrist. (Ganglions can occur off of any joint or tendon in the body.)

As to pain, everyone is different and reacts to procedures in different ways. I have seen patients after a ganglion removal, be back to regular activities in a week or so, and not require much of anything in terms of post-op pain meds. I have seen other patients, under going the exact same procedure, still having problems, using a splint, etc a month out.

It also depends upon how the procedure is performed; open or arthroscopically. But, either way, you will still have to have some anesthesia. Some patients can have the procedure done under a local or regional block, with minimal sedation. This would allow you to have your full faculties much faster, with less post anesthesia sedation and nausea. But, if you are really nervous, the anesthesiologist will most likely give you medication for anxiety and also so you won't remember the procedure.

Having a block is usually better for post-op pain control. If you have a block, you can also be sedated, if you do not want to know what is going on in the operating room. You will be asleep, but will not have to be intubated (tube down the throat). With the block, the feeling will come back slowly, so if you start to develop a lot of pain, you will be able to take your medicine to control the pain.

Again, some patients need a lot of post op opioid pain medicine, while others use little or none. Everyone is unique.

Usually after a ganglion removal, the hand, wrist, distal forearm will be placed into a bulky compressive dressing (usually with a plaster splint, but not all surgeons use a splint). This is a big dressing to help prevent swelling.

Usually that dressing (which is considered sterile) is left in place for at least 5 to 7 days (some surgeons will allow it to come off at around 3 days). Then, after that, just a light dressing, till the sutures are removed (if used). Some surgeons have their patients use a splint for a couple of weeks, while others do not.

A ganglion cyst removal is a significant orthopedic surgery. It is not a mole removal. In an open procedure, the cyst is identified and followed all the way to its origin. This can take a bit of dissection, moving tendons and retinaculums out of the way. Once the origin of the ganglion's stalk has been found, the whole thing is removed, including about 1cm diameter piece of the joint capsule. This is done to reduce the chances of the ganglion coming back. The tissues are reapproximated, the wound closed, and the hand placed in a bulky compressive dressing. This is all done under tourniquet control.

In an arthroscopic ganglionectomy, the joint is distended with saline, so that the camera has a good view. Several stab incisions are made so the instruments can be placed. The joint is inspected and the origin of the ganglion is identified as a hole in the capsule. The joint capsule is resected and the contents of the cyst removed. In this procedure, the cyst wall is not removed. It is left to be resorbed by the body. The instruments are removed, most of the fluid pressed out of the joint, the stab wounds closed, and the hand is placed in a bulky compressive dressing.

If this is your writing hand, you are going to have a bit of trouble writing, just due to the size of the dressing. Your wrist is going to be sore, again, how much is very individual. You may have trouble writing for long periods. In the first week or so, it is recommended that you move your fingers a lot, and elevate the hand above the head, as much as possible.

You should really be asking these questions of your surgeon. You might ask if the dressing can be kept to a minimum, as you are going to need to be able to write. But, that is up to the surgeon.

Again, it would probably have been better if you could've postponed the surgery till after finals. Just going through surgery can take a lot out of you and if you need a lot of medicines, you may not feel the best. It may be hard to concentrate on your studies, if you have to take opioid pain medicine. And if you are in pain, you can't concentrate either.

Hope you do well with your surgery. Again, speak with the surgeon.

Good luck with your finals.
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replied September 13th, 2013
my experience with gangloin cyst removal
I had a ganglion cyst removed from my wrist about a year ago and its an out patient surgery and you feel fine after the surgery but once the anestia wears off its really painful and couldn't take the pain I was crying all night and I have had 15 brain surgerys so im no stranger to pain lol but my cyst has grown back and im going to a doctor in a week to see if I can just go ahead and get it removed before it gets to bad I work in a grocery store so im using my hands all day long and lifting heavy things. it took my a while to get mobility back in my wrist though which really freaked me ot but its back to normal now good luck to all who have ganglion cysts

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