Skeletal Radiology

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 187–209 | Cite as

The MRI appearance of cystic lesions around the knee

  • Catherine L. McCarthy
  • Eugene G. McNally
Review Article


This review presents a comprehensive illustrated overview of the wide variety of cystic lesions around the knee. The aetiology, clinical presentation, MRI appearances and differential diagnosis are discussed. Bursae include those related to the patella as well as pes anserine, tibial collateral ligament, semimembranosus–tibial collateral ligament, iliotibial and fibular collateral ligament–biceps femoris. The anatomical extension, imaging features and clinical significance of meniscal cysts are illustrated. Review of ganglia includes intra-articular, extra-articular, intraosseous and periosteal ganglia, highlighting imaging findings and differential diagnoses. The relationship between proximal tibiofibular joint cysts and intraneural peroneal nerve ganglia is discussed. Intraosseous cystic lesions, including insertional and degenerative cysts, as well as lesions mimicking cysts of the knee are described and illustrated. Knowledge of the location, characteristic appearance and distinguishing features of cystic masses around the knee as well as potential imaging pitfalls such as normal anatomical recesses and atypical cyst contents on MR imaging aids in allowing a specific diagnosis to be made. This will prevent unnecessary additional investigations and determine whether intra-articular surgery or conservative management is appropriate.


Knee Cysts Bursa Ganglia Magnetic resonance imaging 


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Copyright information

© ISS 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyNuffield Orthopaedic CentreHeadington, OxfordUK

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