What are popliteal (Baker) cysts of the knee?

Updated: Nov 12, 2020
  • Author: David M Gonzalez, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Thomas M DeBerardino, MD  more...
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The problems related to cysts around the knee are largely proportional to the size and location of the cyst. [5] One of the most common knee cysts is the popliteal cyst, otherwise known as a Baker cyst; its symptoms can include pain. [6] This type of cyst most often develops in the bursa beneath the medial head of the gastrocnemius and from the semimembranosus bursa. Because the development of popliteal cysts correlates with intra-articular pathology, they usually point to a problem of one or both menisci, a complete or partial cruciate ligament tear, a chondral injury, or a combination of any of these.

Large popliteal cysts can rupture and become quite painful; it is important to rule out deep vein thrombosis in these instances. Meniscal cysts, as previously noted, are problematic because of the pain that is often associated with a palpable, firm mass.

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