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Podiatry (Foot Surgery)

Foot Cysts

Foot cyst removal is treatment to remove a painful or unsightly ganglion cyst which has developed on a joint or tendon on the foot or ankle.

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Medically Reviewed October 2023, by Mr. Bryan Mayou (GMC: 1414396) - founder of the Cadogan Clinic and one of the world's leading plastic surgeons

What is Foot Cyst Removal?

Foot cyst removal is treatment to remove a painful or unsightly ganglion cyst which has developed on a joint or tendon on the foot or ankle.

A ganglionic cyst on the foot can be removed in one of two ways. Sometimes a needle and syringe are used to drain the fluid out of the cyst in an non-invasive process known as aspiration. Alternatively, a cyst on a foot may be removed via surgery, either through open surgery or arthroscopy, a type of keyhole surgery.

The treatment depends on the location, shape and size of the cyst on a foot and whether the growth is causing any pain by pressing on a nerve, discomfort, numbness, weakness or affecting the movement of the joint. One of our expert consultants here at the Cadogan Clinic will examine the ganglion cyst on the foot and ask you questions to determine which treatment type is best for you.

Foot cyst removal is performed as a day surgery at our award-winning London clinic.

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Words from our clients:


What are Ganglion Foot Cysts?

Ganglion foot cysts are benign lumps which form on the joints or tendons on the feet and ankles. They are round or oval shaped and are filled with a jelly-like fluid called synovial fluid, which acts to lubricate and cushion the joints and tendons. Ganglion cysts of the foot range from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball and may feel soft or firm to touch. Some ganglionic foot cysts are so small they can’t be felt at all. The size of a cyst can fluctuate, often getting bigger when the joint is used in repetitive motions.

Although ganglion cysts do not hurt, they may cause pain if they press on a nerve.

Just over half of all ganglion cysts disappear without any treatment, but this may take years, so many people opt for foot cyst removal.

What Causes Foot Cysts?

No one really knows what causes a ganglion cyst on the foot. They seem to occur when the synovial fluid that surrounds and cushions a joint or tendon leaks out and, having nowhere else to go, it collects in a sac.

This leakage of fluid may be caused by an injury or trauma to the foot or ankle, irritation to the nearby joints or tendons or by repetitive stress on the foot or ankle area. But these are just theories and the truth is that no one really knows why a ganglionic cyst on a foot develops.

However there are certain factors which can heighten the risk of ganglionic foot cysts developing.

Although anyone can get a ganglion cyst on the foot, they are more common among women aged between 20 and 40. If you have previously sustained a joint or tendon injury, then this also makes you more susceptible to developing ganglion cysts of the foot. There is also evidence that ganglion cysts may be caused by arthritis.


The cost of Foot Cyst Removal

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What are the signs and symptoms?

The most obvious sign of a cyst on a foot is a noticeable lump on the joint or tendon on the foot or ankle. Underneath the skin the ganglion cyst looks like a balloon on a stalk and it may move around beneath the skin if you press it.

Other signs and symptoms of a ganglion foot cyst include a dull ache or pain near the lump, which means the ganglion cyst is pressing on a ligament or tendon, or alternatively a burning or tingling sensation, which may mean that your cyst is pressing on a nerve. Some people can find this quite painful.

You may find that a cyst on a foot interferes and limits the movement in your joint.

Depending on the location of your foot cyst, you may find that certain types of footwear can rub and irritate the lump.

How are foot cysts diagnosed?

The consultant will examine the lump on your foot and ask questions about your symptoms and how long you have had the lump. They will also ask you about your medical history.

Imaging tests, such as an x-ray or ultrasound, may follow.

The consultant may shine a light through the affected area, in a process known as transillumination, to determine whether the lump is solid or filled with liquid, like a ganglion cyst.

A sample of the fluid in the cyst may be extracted for testing. This will help to determine the type of cyst and how best to treat it.

What are the options for ganglion foot cyst removal?

A ganglion foot cyst can be removed in one of two ways, by draining or cutting. There are pros and cons to both of these methods.

A needle and syringe are used to remove as much of the fluid from inside the cyst as possible, in a process known as aspiration. This causes the cyst to shrink and successfully relieves the pressure on nerves, alleviating any pain and discomfort.

Aspiration is a far less invasive method of foot cyst removal. It’s a quick and painless procedure and you will be able to return to day-to-day activity immediately afterwards. Unfortunately, as many as half of ganglion foot cysts treated this way return later on. If a foot cyst returns, then surgery may be necessary.

Surgery is a more invasive, but far more effective, method of foot cyst removal.

There are two different surgical options - open surgery or arthroscopy, a type of keyhole surgery.

In open surgery, the surgeon will make an incision measuring around 5cm long over the site of the affected joint or tendon. In keyhole surgery, a smaller cut is required and a tiny camera called an arthroscope is used to look inside the joint. Using this tiny camera to guide them, the surgeon can then pass instruments through the cut to remove the cyst

Both techniques can be performed under either local or general anaesthetic.

Open and keyhole surgery are both equally effective at removing the ganglion foot cyst and reducing the risk of it returning. Although neither technique is painful as anaesthetic is used, keyhole surgery tends to cause less pain recovering after the operation.

After surgery the wound is stitched and bandaged to keep it clean and reduce the risk of infection.


Foot Cysts Surgeons

We have invited a selection of the country's very best consultants to join us at the Cadogan Clinic so that you can be sure that whatever the nature of your treatment, you will be seeing one of the top practitioners in the country.

The Patient Journey. A breakdown of what you can expect on your journey with us

We are deeply invested in ensuring that every step of your surgical journey with us is as informative and reassuring to you as it can be. This article outlines what you can expect at each stage of the journey

The Patient Journey

What are the risks?

Complications are rare although, as with all surgery, possible. Your surgeon will discuss each of these risks comprehensively at your consultation. 




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2020

My Face My Body

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2019

My Face My Body

Winner

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2018

My Face My Body

Highly Commended

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2018

Aesthetics Awards

Highly Commended

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