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Ganglion of the distal interphalangeal joint (myxoid cyst): therapy by identification and repair of the leak of joint fluid.

BACKGROUND: Digital myxoid cysts are a relatively common pathology in the skin, representing a ganglion of the adjacent distal interphalangeal joint. Success of treatment is largely proportional to the destructiveness of the therapy and postoperative morbidity. We studied an effective, minimally traumatic surgical treatment in which tissue is not removed and morbidity is low.

DESIGN: Open, nonrandomized trial of therapy. Methylene blue dye was injected into the distal interphalangeal joint. A skin flap was designed around the cyst and raised to identify the dye-filled communication between joint and cyst. The communication was sutured and the flap was replaced with no tissue excision.

SETTING: Two university dermatology departments.

PATIENTS: Fifty-four subjects with 47 cysts involving fingers or thumbs and 7 involving toes. Previous therapies in 37 patients had resulted in relapse.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Clinical assessment at 2 and 8 months.

RESULTS: We treated 34 women and 20 men (mean age, 60.4 years; range, 45-83 years). Communication between cyst and joint was identified by means of methylene blue injection in 48 patients (89%). At 8 months, 48 patients remained cured with no visible scarring. Of these, nail dystrophy associated with the cyst preoperatively (n = 35) resolved in all but 1 patient (97%). Six patients had relapses (5 within 4 months). Of these, 3 were on the toes. Cure rate on toes was 4 of 7 (57%) and on fingers, 44 of 47 (94%). In 2 patients, pain persisted for 4 months and then resolved. Limitation of joint mobility resolved after 2 months in 1 subject.

CONCLUSIONS: Ligature of myxoid cyst origin at the joint capsule is an effective treatment and does not require excision. Myxoid cysts on toes are more likely to relapse than those on fingers.

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