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What could be the cause of a lump on right elbow when pierced with a surgical needle has dark bloody fluid ?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 2007
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Hi, my sister had a golfball sized lump on her right elbow. It was soft, and felt fluid filled. She refused to see a physician (she is an alcoholic). I am a nurse, and I aspirated the lump. I used a 21g needle and 3mL syringe. I was able to get about 5 mL of dark bloody fluid from the lump. There have been no signs of infection, no redness, warmth or additional swelling, and no pain. Should I be concerned that this was a cancerous cyst or tumor. Our mother died of lymphoma.
Posted Sat, 21 Apr 2012 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Kiran Kumar 10 minutes later

Thanks for your query.

You sister has a golf size lump at her right elbow. Aspiration revealed 5 ml of dark fluid.
Its most likely due to enlargement of one of the bursas which are present around the elbow joint. Even a localized hematoma can present this way.

If there are no signs of pain/warmth/tenderness, abscess or infection is unlikely.

If concerned about cancerous cyst, the best thing would be test the aspirate for cytology. However, the type and location of cyst is more suggestive of benign pathology. And yes, its not related to lymphoma.

You can give it a couple of days.
See whether it reduces by itself.

Avoid any kind of trauma to the area.

Do consult doctor if there is increase in size or any sign of infection.

Hope this answers your query.
Thanks and Regards

Dr Kiran
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