[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
October 28, 1974

Popliteal Cyst: Diagnostic Dilemmas

JAMA. 1974;230(4):589. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240040059038

Popliteal cyst (sometimes called Baker cyst, for the man who first described it and not because it afflicts bakers especially) is a benign disorder that ordinarily does nothing more than cause mild discomfort and represent a cosmetic annoyance when present in a woman. Occasionally, however, a popliteal cyst engenders diagnostic dilemmas. This fact is exemplified in a report by Schmidt et al in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine (134:694-698, 1974).

The authors describe ten patients in whom a popliteal cyst was part of the picture of rheumatoid or other arthritis of the knee joint. They noted that the gastrocnemiussemimembranosus bursa frequently communicates with the knee joint, wherein an effusion may thereby lead to a popliteal cyst. In the ten patients, rupture of the cysts caused extravasation of the cyst fluid into the compartments of the calf. There followed symptoms and signs that closely mimicked thrombophlebitis of