Cyst Aspiration

Cysts are benign (non-cancerous), fluid-filled sacs that occur under the skin or inside the body. There are many types of cysts, and they can occur anywhere on the body. Many cysts do not need to be treated and go away on their own. 

You may need a procedure called a cyst aspiration when:

  • your cyst causes pain, grows too large, or becomes infected.
  • your doctor would like to sample the fluid inside the cyst to rule out something more serious, such as a tumor.  

In a cyst aspiration, fluid is drained from the cyst. The fluid may be sent to a lab for analysis. 

What to Expect From a Cyst Aspiration

Columbia's musculoskeletal radiologists use ultrasound imaging to diagnose and treat cysts. Ultrasound is used to precisely locate your cyst. Our experts perform hundreds of image-guided procedures each year, providing relief from cysts and many other conditions.

What will happen during the procedure?

When you arrive at our office, you will be escorted to the procedure room. We will clean the area of the body with the cyst and apply a local anesthetic to help prevent discomfort.

We will then apply a small amount of warm gel to the area, which is used with ultrasound. The sonographer will glide the transducer (wand) over your skin to capture images of the cyst.

Using the images, our radiologist will pinpoint the precise location of the fluid pocket and slowly insert a needle.  Sometimes the needle is attached to a small, thin tube called a catheter.  Fluid will be drained through the needle, or the needle will be removed and the fluid will be drained through the catheter.  In either case, the radiologist monitors the needle and catheter with the ultrasound throughout the procedure. You may feel slight pressure or discomfort from the needle.

When the fluid has drained, the needle and/or catheter is removed and the cyst is bandaged.  If the fluid is sent to a laboratory, your doctor will call you with the results. 

The entire procedure takes about thirty minutes.

Are there any risks?

Cyst aspiration is a safe procedure that uses ultrasound, which creates images without radiation.

After the procedure

You will be asked to begin moving the area of the body that was treated immediately after the procedure. You may feel some soreness from the needle for a few days.  Cysts may return over time, so you may have to have the procedure repeated at some point.   

ColumbiaDoctors/NewYork-Presbyterian Imaging
51 West 51st Street
Suite 300
New York, NY 10019
United States