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Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Primary cysts:

  • these are thought to be caused by repeated small trauma of the bursa related to muscle contraction (1).

Secondary cysts:

these are more common than primary cysts and are thought to be caused by a combination of weakness around the knee, internal pathology and valvular opening between the knee joint and bursa. Triggers include:

  • meniscal tears
  • anterior cruciate ligament insufficiency
  • degenerative cartilage lesions (2)

Other rare aetiological factors causing popliteal cysts include:

  • infectious arthritis
  • polyarthritis
  • villonodular synovitis
  • some connective tissue disorders
  • osteochondritis - in children (2)


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