Date amended:
Statements of Principles
Current RMA Instruments
Reasonable Hypothesis SOP71 of 2016 as amended
Balance of Probabilities SOP 72 of 2016
SOP bulletin information on new SOPs



ICD Coding
  • ICD-9-CM Codes:727.41-3
  • ICD-10-AM Codes: M67.40-9
Brief description

A ganglion is a common, benign, fluid-filled swelling overlying a joint or tendon.  They are most often found in the wrist or hand but can occur at many other sites.  They may cause pain, weakness, or loss of function.

Confirming the diagnosis

The diagnosis can be made based on the findings on clincial examination.  Ultrasound may be useful and an MRI is sometimes required to identify an occult ganglion causing wrist pain.

The relevant medical specialist is an orthopaedic surgeon.

Additional diagnoses covered by SOP
  • ganglion cyst
Conditions not covered by SOP
  • Baker's cyst or popliteal cyst of knee*
  • cyst of bursa#
  • ganglion in yaws#
  • synovial cyst# (see comments)

* another SOP applies

# non-SOP condition

Clinical onset

Once the diagnosis has been confirmed clinical onset can be backdated to when the current swelling first became evident.

Clinical worsening

Ganglions may resolve spontaneously and most do not require treatment.  Aspiration or surgical treatment may be indicated for pain or loss of function.  Closed rupture of a ganglion by hitting it with, for example, a book, was a past treatment practice but is no longer recommended.

Further comments on diagnosis

Synovial cysts (including Baker's cysts) are lined by synovial cells and are pathologically distinct from ganglions.  Ganglion cysts are surrounded by dense connective tissue, without a synovial lining.  However, the terms may be used interchangeably (incorrectly) by some practitioners and on some websites.  Synovial cysts are specifically excluded from the ganglion SOP in the SOP definition.