Photo Quiz

Dome-Shaped Lesion on the Finger


Am Fam Physician. 2017 Oct 1;96(7):467-468.

A 43-year-old man presented with a lesion on his right index finger. It had been present for a couple of years and was growing gradually. There was no history of trauma or infection to the area. He had no fever or weight loss.

Physical examination revealed a soft, nontender, cystic lesion on the dorsum of the right second digit over the distal interphalangeal joint (Figures 1 and 2). There was no surrounding erythema or warmth, and the lesion was immobile with flexion and extension of the distal interphalangeal joint. There were positive findings on transillumination.

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Figure 1.

Figure 1.

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Figure 2.

Figure 2.


Based on the patient's history and physical examination findings, which one of the following is the most likely diagnosis?

A. Digital mucous cyst.

B. Fibrokeratoma.

C. Intradermal nevus.

D. Pyogenic granuloma.


The answer is A: digital mucous cyst. Digital mucous cysts are solitary, flesh-colored lesions on the dorsal digits, usually between the distal interphalangeal joint and the proximal nail bed.1 They are benign ganglion cysts that are immobile with flexion and extension of the digits. They are more common on the fingers of the dominant hand but may also appear on toes.2 They can be a couple of millimeters to more than a centimeter in diameter. Digital mucous cysts usually present in middle-aged and older persons. Women are twice as likely as men to develop digital mucous cysts.1

There are two types of digital mucous cysts. One type develops from degenerative changes within the distal interphalangeal joint, and the other type is caused by fibroblast overproduction of hyaluronic acid.1 The two types cannot be differentiated clinically.3 Although the lesions are often asymptomatic, they may cause discomfort and decreased range of motion if located on or near a joint.1,3 When a cyst

Address correspondence to Shannon Langner, MD, at Reprints are not available from the authors.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.


show all references

1. Zuber TJ. Office management of digital mucous cysts. Am Fam Physician. 2001;64(12):1987–1990....

2. Salerni G, Alonso C. Images in clinical medicine. Digital mucous cyst. N Engl J Med. 2012;366(14):1335.

3. Li K, Barankin B. Digital mucous cysts. J Cutan Med Surg. 2010;14(5):199–206.

4. Seiverling E, McLaughlin D, Kelifa O. Teenager with a bleeding, red papule. Am Fam Physician. 2016;93(3):223–224.

5. Habif TB. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier; 2016.

6. Choi JH, Jung SY, Chun JS, et al. Giant acquired digital fibrokeratoma occurring on the left great toe. Ann Dermatol. 2011;23(1):64–66.

This series is coordinated by John E. Delzell Jr., MD, MSPH, Assistant Medical Editor.

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