Baker's Cyst

Baker’s cyst is a relatively common orthopedic condition that is, however, quite often encountered and diagnosed by an angiologist. This is caused by the fact that some symptoms of Baker’s cyst mimic symptoms of venous diseases of lower extremities.


Baker's cyst is a structure located in popliteal area (backside of the knee). It is usually filled with fluid and surrounded by a membrane. Its origin is a chronic inflammation that can accompany a knee injuries and inflammatory joint diseases such as gout, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and others. In many cases, the real cause of Baker's cysts remains unclear.


Baker's cyst may be asymptomatic and in that case it could be an incidental finding by an ultrasound examination. However, it can also cause unpleasant pressure and calf pain; sometimes the patient can find the cyst by touch on the back side of the calf as a rigid structure beneath skin. Baker’s cyst can rupture and in such situation sudden pain and swelling of the calf emerge. Such symptoms are often mistaken for symptoms of deep vein thrombosis.


Baker's cyst

Scheme -Side of a knee with Baker's cyst



By above described symptoms it is appropriate to visit doctor for clinical evaluation. An ultrasound can rule out a case of deep vein thrombosis and it can often find the presence of Baker’s cyst and its proportions. When diagnosed, an orthopedic examination may be performed.


We usually recommend rest of affected limb with only limited exertion; a knee immobilizer can be prescribed. The fluid from the cyst can be extracted by a syringe and then some anti-inflammatory agent (typically corticosteroids) is injected into the cyst inject to reduce the inflammation process. That is associated with relief, but the fluid in cyst may accumulate again after some time. Painkillers may be also administered to diminish symptoms.. Cysts that cause significant distress and are unresponsive to the above mentioned treatment can be completely removed by a surgical intervention.

Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources