Bakers Cyst

Bakers Cyst Description
Bakers Cyst is a common cause of swelling in the back of the knee.  Bakers cysts develop when a small fluid filled sack (bursa) in the back of the knee fills with excessive fluid.  The knee joint normal has a lubricating fluid in it known as synovial fluid.  With an injury, arthritis or meniscal tears the amount of fluid can increase and a Bakers cyst can form.

Bakers Cyst Anatomy
Bakers Cysts  are located in the back of the knee.  The are generally located between the semimembranosus muscle and medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle.  The popliteal bursa (fluid filled sac) communicates with the knee joint and can become cystic with synovitis, arthritis, meniscal tears or trauma which increase the joint fluid in the knee.

Bakers Cyst Symptoms
Bakers Cyst are often incidental findings noted during a physical exam or on an MRI of the knee.  Most Bakers cysts do not cause pain or limitations.  Occasionally Bakers cyst will cause swelling or fullness in the back of the knee (popliteal fossa) . Bakers Cysts often change in size getting larger or smaller.  Very large cysts may track down into the calf.  Bakers cyst can rupture and cause severe calf pain and swelling, although this is uncommon.

Bakers Cyst Treatment 
Bakers Cysts are diagnosed based on a detailed history, physical exam and xrays performed by an orthopaedic surgeon, or sports medicine specialist.

No treatment is needed for Bakers cysts that are not painful.  Bakers cysts that are painful are best treated with treatment of the underlying cause.  Most Bakers cysts are associated with meniscal tears or arthritis and the cyst resovles when the meniscal tear or arthritis are treated.  Bakers Cysts associated with meniscal tears generally respond well to knee arthroscopy with meniscal repair or partial excision.
Bakers Cysts associated with advanced arthritis generally respond well to knee replacement surgery.  Cyst aspiration is generally not recommended.  Bakers cyst often rapidly recur after aspiration.  In rare situations Bakers Cyst  are surgically removed. 

Similar injuries that can be confused with Bakers Cyst include:

The information on this website is not intended to be medical advice. The information on this website may not be complete or accurate. While the information on this site is about health care issues and sports medicine, it is not medical advice. People seeking specific medical advice or assistance should contact a board certified physician. See Site Terms / Full Disclaimer.