Mucus Cyst

Excision of a Mucus Cyst

Why does it occur?

A mucus cyst is a fluid-filled sac which can occur on the end joint of a finger in conjunction with osteoarthritic changes in that joint.

What are the symptoms?

A swelling appears which may or may not be painful. Pressure from the cyst may cause a furrow to appear in the nail.


An x-ray of the finger will enable assessment of the joint surface, if required.

Treatment options

  • Non-operative treatment

The cyst may spontaneously disappear over time.

Aspiration of the cyst - the liquid contents of the cyst are removed via a hypodermic needle under local anaesthetic.

  • Operative treatment

Surgical excision - this procedure can be performed under local anaesthetic (a series of injections around the base of the finger). A tourniquet (tight cuff) is placed around the base of the finger to reduce blood flow during surgery. An incision is made over the mucus cyst and the sac is dissected out of the surrounding tissues.  Stitches are placed in the skin to aid wound healing and dressings are applied.


Pain - mild analgesia may be required once the local anaesthetic effect has passed.

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1 - (incidence of 1 %) this condition can occur after injury or surgery and would mean more pain and stiffness which would require analgesia and hand therapy.

Recurrence- occasionally a new cyst forms in the same place and this can be treated as symptoms dictate.

Rehabilitation after surgery

The dressings can be reduced after 24 hours but the stitches must remain covered until they are removed 7-10 days after surgery. The site should be kept clean and dry during this period. There are no restrictions upon movement.

Frequently asked questions