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General Information

DEFINITION--Removal of Baker's cyst, a benign cystic tumor on the back of the knee joint. The cyst consists of accumulated fluid that protrudes between two groups of muscles behind the knee. Baker's cyst may result from injury or from diseases, such as arthritis, gout or inflammation of the membrane lining the knee joint.

BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Space behind the knee joint on either or both sides of the knee.

REASONS FOR SURGERY--If the cyst has resulted from disease, it usually disappears after successful treatment of the underlying disease. Otherwise, the cyst is removed when it becomes painful or unsightly. In children, the cyst is usually left to heal by itself, and is not removed unless it presses on nerves or blood vessels.


  • Obesity; smoking.
  • Poor nutrition.
  • Recent or chronic illness.

What To Expect

WHO OPERATES--General surgeon or orthopedist.

WHERE PERFORMED--Outpatient surgical facility or hospital.


  • Before surgery: Blood and urine studies; x-rays of both knees; arthrograms (See Glossary).
  • After surgery: Blood studies.


  • Local anesthesia by injection.
  • General anesthesia by injection and inhalation with an airway tube placed in the windpipe.


  • An incision is made over the cyst.
  • The cyst is located, cut free from surrounding tissue and removed.
  • The skin is closed with fine sutures, which usually can be removed about 2 weeks after surgery.
  • A synthetic patch is sutured in place to cover the defect left from removal of the cyst.


  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Surgical-wound infection.
  • Slow healing and continued pain.
  • Recurrence (rare).


PROBABLE OUTCOME--Expect complete healing without complications. Allow about 4 weeks for recovery from surgery.

Postoperative Care


  • A hard ridge should form along the incision. As it heals, the ridge will recede gradually.
  • Use an electric heating pad, a heat lamp or a warm compress to relieve incisional pain.
  • Bathe and shower as usual. You may wash the incision gently with mild unscented soap.

† You may use non--prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen, for minor pain.

† To help recovery and aid your well--

    being, resume daily activities, including work, as soon as you are able.

  • Use crutches or a cane to walk (as directed by your doctor). > Avoid vigorous exercise for 6 weeks after surgery. > Resume driving 2 weeks after returning home.

DIET--Eat a well--balanced diet to promote healing.

Call Your Doctor If

† Pain, swelling, redness, drainage or bleeding increases in the surgical area.

  • You develop signs of infection: headache, muscle aches, dizziness or a general ill feeling and fever.
  • You experience nausea or vomiting.
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.
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