To describe the clinical and magnetic resonance imaging findings of ganglion cysts with effusion in the flexor hallucis longus tendon sheath around the hallux to evaluate their origin.
Patients with recurrent or painful ganglion cysts around the hallux with effusion in the flexor hallucis longus tendon sheath who underwent surgical treatment at St. Vincent's Hospital from February 2007 to August 2016 were investigated. Surgical indication was a painful or recurrent mass caused by the cystic lesions. Those without effusion of the flexor hallucis longus tendon sheath were excluded. We assessed the clinical and magnetic resonance imaging findings.
Magnetic resonance imaging findings in all patients showed several ganglion cysts around the hallux and large fluid accumulations within the flexor hallucis longus tendon sheath. Regarding the location, six ganglion cysts were on the dorsomedial aspect, one on the plantar medial aspect, seven on the plantar lateral aspect, and one in the toe pulp. Ten patients showed joint effusions in both the metatarsophalangeal and interphalangeal joints, two in the metatarsophalangeal joints, and three in the interphalangeal joints. There were communication stalks with a tail shape or abutment between ganglion cysts with surrounding joint effusions. Intraoperatively, connections between ganglion cysts, the synovial cyst of the flexor hallucis longus tendon sheath, and surrounding joints were seen.
Synovial fluid accumulation in the metatarsophalangeal or interphalangeal joint supplies the synovial cyst of the flexor hallucis longus tendon sheath and subsequently ganglion cysts in the hallux. In clinical practice, the surgeon should carefully check surrounding joints with tendon sheaths to prevent recurrence of the ganglion cysts around the hallux.