Doctors: A question about Baker's Cysts

Back in August, I introduced you all to Sublight, Junior, who was busily sprouting his way out of the back of my right knee. The Doc diagnosed Junior as a Baker’s Cyst and told me that as long as I wasn’t in pain or having trouble walking, there wasn’t any danger.

Fast forward six months to February. Junior has grown up big and strong, and is now the size of two tangerines placed side by side. He’s not causing his daddy any pain, but he is getting a bit big for me to be carrying him around all the time, and, much as I hate to say this, he is one ugly-ass kid (sometimes I wonder if I’m really the father). He’s also freaking out my wife, who keeps making dire predictions that I’m going to have to have my leg cut off. I went to my doctor again to see if maybe it wasn’t time to cut the cord, so to speak, and send Junior out into the world on his own.

The doctor, after commenting “you’ve got the biggest one I’ve ever seen,” asked me to show him my cyst. (wait, reverse that) I had an MRI done, after which he told me that surgery isn’t usually done on Baker’s cysts and wasn’t necessary if it wasn’t giving me trouble walking. He then told me that most likely “it will either go away by itself or rupture, so there’s no danger.” That last part caught me by surprise, so I asked him specifically “It’s not dangerous if it ruptures?”, to which he said no.

So, my question to the Doctor Dopers out there: Is this true? Is it actually safe for my Baker’s cyst to rupture? This site implies that it’s ok, but other sites have given me doubts.

Also, if a rupture isn’t dangerous, should I try to induce one myself? How? In my August thread, Mauvaise mentioned doing that (to his Mom) and having it work (for a while), but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading the “What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done to yourself” threads, its that just because someone’s tried something and lived doesn’t mean it’s the most intelligent thing to do.

One bump, just in case any of Qadgop or any of the other Doctors are reading, and then I’ll let it die a natural death (the thread, not my knee).

No, it’s not dangerous if it ruptures, but it is painful as the fluid tracks down along the calf muscles and causes temporary inflammation that can simulate deep venous thrombosis. I bet if your doctor had it in his popliteal fossa he would do something about it. Don’t know how you would rupture it on purpose though, and anyway, it might well come back.

You’ve had this condition for six months and it’s only gotten worse? Time to see an orthopedic surgeon. What are you supposed to do? Wait until they are the size of cantaloupes before you have them treated?

Don’t, by any means, take any action yourself. That’s fluid in there and fluid has a nasty habit of becoming infected.

What is a baker’s cyst? I know a cyst is, generally, a fleshy sac filled with fluid of some kind, but what differentiates a baker’s cyst from other kinds of cysts?

I agree that you probably shouldn’t be taking a straight razor to it yourself, if only because you’ll probably not be able to keep it clean enough to prevent an infection. And while infections are generally survivable now (heck, we don’t even amputate for gangrene anymore :)), there’s no reason to open yourself up to one (heh).

To echo Cillassi, I’d say take your MRI films to an orthopedist for a specialist opinion. They can and are frequently removed for comfort reasons.

Ok, that sounds the reasonable thing to do. I’ll give the local clinic a call and schedule an appointment with their orthopedist (the previous two doctors I’d talked with were GPs).

Thanks everyone.