Useless surgeons

I have a supposed ganglion cyst in the tip of my middle finger.  Not everyone can feel it, but I can feel it all the time. It bothers me when I open the refrigerator.  It bothers me when I'm driving. It bothers me sometimes even while I'm typing.  I saw a nurse about it about a month ago at Kaiser (CA based HMO), who referred me to a surgeon to have the cyst aspirated.  I finally got into see the surgeon and after a very long wait, and this resident examined the finger and started sticking a syringe into it.  We're all naturally raised to not question authority, particularly doctors, so it took all the nerve I had to point out to her that she was not injecting the syringe anywhere near where the cyst was.  It turns out, she hadn't felt the cyst at all during the examination!  She was just jabbing my finger randomly, hoping to hit tht thing I was complaining about! Exasperated, she begrudgingly agreed to get another syringe and try again.... and she missed again (but this time insisted that she didn't).  She told me I had only two remaining options: surgery, which has a high risk of nerve damage (not a good thing for a finger!); or ignore it.  Hmpf.  I think I'll wait until my doctor is back from her maternity leave and ask for a referral to a \*different\* surgeon.

Surgeon? Sounds like you got a darts player instead! Your post had me cringing... you have my sympathy. I hope it works out when you get re-referred.
All the best, Robin

Posted by guest on April 28, 2005 at 10:30 PM PDT #

Just remember that you are lucky to have the GOOD healthcare in the united states. Most barely get to see a doctor, let alone a surgeon.

Posted by guest on April 29, 2005 at 05:13 AM PDT #

Anon - You're right - I am very lucky! And as much fun as it is to complain about HMO (Health Management Organization), they do overall provide good care. The one time I did need an actual surgery at Kaiser, the surgery went very well. The after care was poor, and the medications made me throw up... but I'm sure that wasn't their intentions. :-) I'm also very fortunate to work for Sun, which provides great healthcare coverage for their employees. I have lots of friends who do not have any health insurance, which greatly limits their access to good healthcare.

Posted by Valerie on April 29, 2005 at 06:14 AM PDT #

I had a ganglionic cyst below the ring finger of my left hand. It was the result of repetitive stress, and although the only thing a doctor would recommend was surgery, when I avoided the stress I'd traced it back to, the cyst cleared up in about 3 months.

Given the location of your cyst, this might not be an option for you (e.g. for someone whose job involves typing), and you might be better off with a surgical intervention; however, from my personal experience, the risk of nerve damage and the time the finger will be out of commission might be better served just preventing use of the hand for the same priod of time a surgical recovery would require.

Obviously, you should consult your doctor, and maybe get a second opinion, if your doctor is less than helpful, since if the cause of the problem remains untreated, it's not going to go away on its own, and could get worse.

Good luck!
-- Terry

Posted by Terry on May 10, 2005 at 06:09 AM PDT #

One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch. Speaking as someone who saw a surgeon pour his heart and soul into the profession, spending long hours reading up on the latest discoveries and techniques, getting up in the middle of the night to save a life, etc., just keep talking to different ones until you find one in whom you are confident.

Posted by I18n G.A.L. on May 10, 2005 at 08:48 AM PDT #

I had a cyst taken off yesterday supposedly. After i got home I realized he actually removed healthy skin and left the cyst! (The cyst is on the back of my head near the hairline). Today I made the mistake of going back in to show him the cyst was still there and he wouldn't even look at it. HE was mad! Said I'd have to come back after it was healed up. Meanwhile he's sent a biopsy out of normal skin!!! Grrrrr. Its been 18 mos waiting to get this thing off the back of my head. grrrrr. What would you do? Karen

Posted by KAREN on November 09, 2005 at 10:48 AM PST #

Hi Karen -

Wow - that's so frustrating! I'd get a different surgeon! I still have the lump in my finger. My primary care physician did an x-ray then referred me to a different plastic surgeon. Of course, this is an HMO, so the x-ray was not available on the system that is supposed to contain all x-rays (apparently it works for most sites except the one I got the x-ray done at).

This plastic surgeon hypothosized that I don't have a cyst but some kind of tumor (he told me the kind, but did not write it down, and my memory was not good enough to find anything in Google afterwards). He still tried to burst it, in case it was a cyst, but nothing happend! So now I have a tumor stuck in my finger that is "probably" benign.

Totally see a different surgeon this time - any doctor that could be that rude when he made a mistake isn't worth going back to. Yikes!

good luck!


Posted by Valerie Bubb on November 10, 2005 at 03:15 AM PST #

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