The Efficacy of Nonsurgical and Surgical Interventions in the Treatment of Pediatric Wrist Ganglion Cysts

Carolyn Shanks, Tyler Schaeffer, David P. Falk, Carl Nunziato, Danielle A. Hogarth, Andrea S. Bauer, Apurva S. Shah, Hilton Gottschalk, Joshua M. Abzug, Christine A. Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: The treatment of ganglion cysts of the wrist remains understudied in the pediatric population, with the literature showing variable recurrence rates following different interventions. This study sought to determine whether surgical and nonsurgical management of pediatric ganglion cysts was associated with improved resolution rates when compared to observation alone. Methods: We identified 654 cases of pediatric ganglion cysts treated across 5 institutions between 2012 and 2017. The mean age at presentation was 11.6 ± 5.2 years. Of the patients, 315 had >2 years (mean, 50.0 months) of follow-up, either via chart review or telephone callbacks. There were 4 different treatment groups: (1) observation, (2) cyst aspiration, (3) removable orthosis, and (4) surgical excision. Results: For patients followed >2 years, the cyst resolved in 44% (72/163) of those observed. Only 18% (9/49) of those treated with aspiration resolved, and 55% (12/22) of those treated with an orthosis resolved. Surgical excision was associated with resolution of the cyst in 73% (59/81) of patients. Observation had higher rates of resolution compared to aspiration. Orthosis fabrication and observation had similar rates of cyst resolution. Surgery had the highest rates of resolution when compared to observation and aspiration. Patients older than 10 years were less likely to have the cyst resolve with observation (35%; 28/80) than those younger than 10 years (53%; 44/83) at >2 years of follow-up. Conclusions: This study did not find evidence that nonsurgical treatments were associated with improved rates of cyst resolution compared to observation alone in a large pediatric sample. Surgical excision had the overall highest rate of resolution. Despite the costs and increased clinic time of orthosis fabrication and aspiration, these treatments were not associated with improved rates of cyst resolution in pediatric ganglion cysts compared to observation, with aspiration having higher rates of recurrence compared to observation. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-347
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Ganglion cyst
  • pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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