Patients come to see us for treatment of many different conditions here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle. In some cases, people need to have cysts on their lower extremities biopsied or removed. Let’s take a look at what is entailed with cyst removal so that if you have a cyst, you can determine if removal is the course of treatment that is right for you.
Logically, the best place to start with this is helping you understand what your cyst actually is. Generally speaking, a cyst is a sac-like structure or closed capsule of sorts that develops in the body. Depending on the kind of cyst—and there are literally hundreds of different types—it might be filled with liquid, gel-like, or even gaseous material. Cysts have walls or distinct membranes to keep in whatever substance is inside them. They can occur in almost any type of body tissue, with sizes ranging from microscopic to large cysts that can displace internal organs. The key takeaway to keep in mind is that these are abnormal, though mostly benign (noncancerous), formations.
Whereas cysts can develop almost anywhere on your body, there are two kinds that are particularly common to the lower limbs:
Epidermoid (sebaceous) cysts – These cysts are usually benign. They are marked by swelling in the skin, which arises from a sebaceous gland, and are typically filled with an oily, yellowish secretion from the gland. Epidermoid cysts are usually easy to see, as they cause an abnormal swelling of the skin. When they become large, these cysts can be unsightly and rather painful.
Ganglion (synovial) cysts – A ganglion cyst is most likely to develop near a joint or along a tendon. These growths are filled with a jelly-like substance that is similar to the thick, lubricating fluid found around tendons and inside joints.
Fortunately, as mentioned, the majority of cysts are benign, but there are some that might contain malignant cells. For this reason, it is best to have any unusual lump on your body investigated by a medical professional.
Cyst Removal and Treatment
Treatment for a cyst will depend on factors like which type and whether or not it is causing pain or difficulty. There are many cases where a cyst is not an issue, beyond its appearance, and treatment is simply not necessary. Large cysts, though, may compress normal tissues. When it is nerve tissue compressed, you will experience symptoms like burning and tingling sensations, pain, or even numbness. In a case like that, you will want to have the cyst removed.
Depending on the kind of cyst we are removing, we may simply use a needle or catheter to drain it of the substance inside, thereby collapsing the cyst. In other cases, surgical intervention may be recommended, especially if we have reason to believe the cyst is malignant.
To establish whether or not a cyst is malignant, we will likely need to take a biopsy of the cyst wall or capsule. We may also have any drained fluid examined under a microscope to determine whether or not cancerous cells are present.
For additional information on cyst removal, contact our medical specialists here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle by calling (541) 776-3338. You can also use our online contact form to connect with our Medford, OR podiatrist office right now.