How is a Baker’s cyst diagnosed?

You need a professional medical exam to diagnose a Baker’s cyst. Here are the ways a doctor diagnoses a Baker’s cyst:

  • Taking a medical history: This will include information on previous injury to the knee.
  • X-ray: You will not see the lump through the X-ray, but it will help determine if there is arthritis present in the knee. This can be the cause of the Baker's cyst.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans: An MRI uses magnetic waves instead of X-rays to show images.
  • Ultrasound test: Ultrasound uses sound waves to determine if the lump is solid or filled with fluid.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/25/2016.


  • Better Health Channel: Baker’s Cyst
  • Fritschy, D., Fasel, J., Imbert, JC. et al. The popliteal cyst. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthr (2006) 14: 623-628
  • Koplas M; Schils J; Sundaram M. The painful knee: choosing the right imaging test. Cleve Clin J Med. 2008 May;75( 5):377-84

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy