Department of hand surgery & Microsurgery.

Giant Cell Tumour of Tendon Sheath

What is the Giant Cell Tumour of the Tendon Sheath ?

A giant cell tumour of the tendon sheath (GCT) is a rare,benign (non-cancerous) tumour which can develop in the tendon sheaths around the body. A tendon sheath is a layer of membrane around a tendon, known as synovium, which allows the tendon to move smoothly. It can develop anywhere in the body where there is a tendon sheath, but is most common in the hand and wrist. Giant cell tumours of the tendon sheath tend to be slow growing and usually appear as a non-painful lump. It is also known as pigmented villonodular tenosynovitis.

Who is commonly affected ?

A giant cell tumour of tendon sheath can occur at any age, but is most common in adults and is more commonly found in women.


We will confirm your diagnosis once we have carried out ultrasound and MRI scans (imaging), and we have the histology (results) from the biopsy taken from the tumour, if this is needed. If we feel that a biopsy is not needed before we recommend surgery, your diagnosis will be confirmed once the tumour has been removed and analysed.


The usual treatment for giant cell tumour of the tendon sheath is surgery to remove the tumour. We will decide on the best treatment for you depending on a number of factors. These include:

  • The position and size of the tumour
  • Your general health and well being.