Ganglion Cysts in Children Are Worth Watching

Bumps and bruises are common among children. However, one bump that shouldn’t be overlooked is called a ganglion cyst. A common problem in adults, ganglion cysts are much less common in children. Small and often painless, ganglion cysts tend to affect the wrists of girls more than boys. Some cysts form on the back of the wrist, some on the front.

When a child develops a painless ganglion cyst, the authors have determined that usually the best treatment is to watch and wait. In children, about half of the cysts treated by puncturing them with a needle (aspiration) come back. When surgically removed, about 35 percent of the cysts return. But many cysts simply go away with time.

The authors studied 14 children with simple ganglion cysts. They ranged in age from two to about nine years old. With no other treatment than watching and waiting, all but three of the cysts (79 percent) went away by themselves within one year of the time the doctor first saw them. The two cysts that didn’t go away had formed on the back of the hand. These are called dorsal cysts.

If a child’s cyst still hasn’t gone away within a year, surgery may be necessary. Also, cysts that develop on the back of the hand could require a different strategy. When a child has what looks like a simple and painless wrist ganglion, the authors offer that “our experience encourages reassurance of the parents and observation of the mass.”