Pod Casts

Mucous Cyst of thumb or finger

What is a mucous cyst?

A mucous cyst is a collection of jellylike substance, which usually arises from the distal joint of a finger or toe and collects underneath the skin as a translucent swelling. 

What causes a mucous cyst?

In many cases mucous cysts can arise without an obvious underlying cause.  However, there can be an association with early arthritis of the underlying distal joint of the finger or toe.  It is not uncommon in this situation to see a tiny bone spicule on an x-ray. 

What symptoms does a mucous cyst give rise to?

Some mucous cysts maybe asymptomatic especially in the early stages.  They can be painful and occasionally can get inflamed or infected and discharge onto the surface.  A particular symptom that results from a mucous cyst is a change in the shape of the nail or a groove in the nail (nail dystrophy).  This results from pressure of the mucous cyst on the proximal part of the nail bed where the new nail is generated. 

This usually resolves between three and six months following successful removal of a mucous cyst and a normal nail should grow out at the end of this period. 

How are mucous cysts treated?

The treatment for a symptomatic mucous cyst is usually excision with advancement of a piece of skin from the more proximal part of the finger to close the opening in the skin which results from removal of the cyst. 

What problems can patients experience following removal of a mucous cyst?

Just like any other operation, removal of a mucous cyst can result in problems such as bleeding, infection and breakdown of the wound.  Very occasionally the scar can be tender, there may be a recurrence of the cyst, the nail deformity resulting from the mucous cyst may not resolve completely and sensation in the finger beyond the area of the surgery may be slightly altered.

What is the normal post operative recovery after removal of a mucous cyst?

Following surgery there is a dressing on the finger along with a splint to rest the finger. Stitches are removed a week after surgery and gentle movement is encouraged.

Most patients regain movement in the finger between two and six weeks following the operation. 

A gradual return to normal activities such as light work, driving, writing and typing is possible at two to four weeks following the operation.  Heavy work including lifting, use of power tools or working in a contaminated environment with a high risk of infection may require between four to eight weeks following surgery. 

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Mucous Cyst

Mucous Cyst

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