Health Questions and Answers

Question: What is Baker’s cyst? How does it form?


Swelling of the knee capsule extending posteriorly to the popliteal fossa (hence the synonym popliteal cyst). Baker’s cyst is thought to develop as the knee is flexed, producing a significant rise in intra-articular pressure and an outpouching of the synovium posteriorly. The cruciate ligaments may act as a one-way valve, making it hard for the fluid to resorb. Posterior rupture may lead to swelling of the leg below the knee. When rupture occurs, a crescentic hematoma may form beneath one of the malleoli.

Reference: Kraag G, et al: The hemorrhagic crescent sign of acute synovial rupture [letter]. Ann Intern Med 85:477, 1976.

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