Mucous Cyst Removal & Treatment

A mucous cyst is a firm, fluid filled cyst (actually a ganglion cyst) near the end of the finger usually just below the fingernail. Most often, mucous cysts are associated with arthritis in the joint nearest the fingertip and arise from that joint. An early sign of a mucous cyst may be grooving of  the fingernail due to pressure from the cyst on the nailbed. The cyst may rupture and drain a clear, jelly-like fluid. Rupture of the mucus cyst may progress to an infection that can spread to the joint.

Your doctor can usually make the diagnosis of mucous cyst by examining your finger. An X-ray may be taken to determine the extent of arthritis present.

Mucous cyst treatment is surgical excision. We strongly discourage patients from trying to rupture cysts or trying to aspirate cysts themselves due to the risk of introducing an infection into the joint. If the cyst becomes unsightly or painful, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of the cyst and any bony spurs that may be associated with it. Depending on the extent of tendon involvement, a small pin may be placed through the fingertip at the time of surgery to stabilize the joint as it heals. This is indicated less than 10% of the time. The pin stays in for 4-6 weeks and is then removed in the office. After surgery, you may notice some stiffness of the joint.

Surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure. It should be noted that even with surgical removal, a mucous cyst can recur.