Intraneural ganglion cyst: A 200-year-old mystery solved

Robert J. Spinner, Jean François Vincent, Alexandra P. Wolanskyj, Bernd W. Scheithauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We describe the first reported case of an intraneural ganglion cyst, an ulnar ("cubital") intraneural cyst, which, on literature review, dated to 1810. For over 80 years, its original brief description by Beauchêne was wrongly attributed to Duchenne, effectively making the reference and specimen inaccessible to scrutiny. Fortunately, the intact cyst had been safely housed in the Musée Dupuytren, Paris, France, thus permitting its examination. Although originally described as a "serous" cyst, our present understanding of the anatomy of the ulnar nerve and of peripheral nerve pathology allowed us to reinterpret it as a mucin-filled, elbow-level, ulnar intraneural ganglion cyst. In addition to its description as a fusiform cystic enlargement of the nerve, we documented similar enlargement of a lumen-bearing branch, the articular branch at the level of the elbow. Based on our assessment of the specimen and with a modern perspective, we concluded that the origin of the cyst was from the posteromedial aspect of the elbow joint and that its fluid content, having dissected through a capsular defect, followed the path of the articular branch into the parent ulnar nerve. The purpose of this report is to clarify historical misconceptions regarding the pathogenesis of this controversial entity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-618
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Articular nerve branch
  • Intraneural ganglion cyst
  • Medical history
  • Unified theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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