Mucous cysts are small cysts that occur just behind the fingernail on the top of the joint at the end of the finger. These cysts are treated by Dr. Peter G. Fitzgibbons, MD at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics: Maryland Orthopedic Specialists Division. Dr. Fitzgibbons performed fellowship-training in hand, wrist, and elbow surgery through the Harvard Hand & Upper Extremity Fellowship based at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. With locations in both Germantown, Rockville, and Bethesda, Maryland, he and a team of orthopaedists, hand therapists, and physical therapists offer a comprehensive range of services covering the diagnosis and treatment of mucous cysts.
A mucous cyst arises from the joint at the end of the finger. When that joint has arthritis, a bone spur forms on top of the joint. Irritation of the lining of the joint by that bone spur is what is thought to give rise to these benign growths. Mucous cysts are not tumors and are self-limited in size.
Generally speaking, a mucous cyst is a cosmetic problem, and there is no need to do anything about it. Sometimes a mucous cyst will cause the skin overlying it to become thin and rupture, and potentially develop an infection. Other times people find the bump to be irritating and decide to treat it.
Mucous cysts can be aspirated (stuck with a needle to remove the fluid) but the chance of it coming back is very high. Definitive treatment is with a minor surgery in which the bone spur underlying the cyst is removed, thus preventing it from forming. It is important to know that arthritis in the joint will not be affected, although often that arthritis is not symptomatic anyway.
Surgery for a mucous cyst is an outpatient procedure and is usually done with local anesthesia. Dr. Fitzgibbons performs most of these procedures at the Massachusetts Avenue Surgery Center, an outpatient surgery center that provides a safe, patient-oriented experience in a friendly and comfortable environment.