Referral to emergency

If any of the following are present or suspected, please refer the patient to the emergency department (via ambulance if necessary) or seek emergent medical advice if in a remote region.

  • nil

For clinical advice, please telephone the relevant metropolitan Local Health Network switchboard and ask to speak to the relevant specialty service.

Central Adelaide Local Health Network

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network


  • cosmetic concerns
  • benign lesions:
    • lipomas
    • naevi (melanocytic/pigmented)
    • sebaceous cysts of the torso and lower extremities
    • seborrheic keratoses
    • skin tags
    • warts
    • xanthelasma

Triage categories

Category 1 - appointment clinically indicated within 30 days

  • suspected malignancy
  • suspected soft tissue tumour
  • rapidly enlarging growths

Category 2 — appointment clinically indicated within 90 days

  • infected cyst of head, neck, or hand
  • vascular malformation or other tumour causing significant functional impairment

Category 3 — appointment clinically indicated within 365 days

  • ganglion of the hand or wrist with maximal medical management that is:
    • enlarging
    • symptomatic
    • causing functional impairment

For information on referral forms and how to import them, please view general referral information.

Essential referral information

Completion required before first appointment to ensure patients are ready for care. Please indicate in the referral if the patient is unable to access mandatory tests or investigations as they incur a cost or are unavailable locally.

  • identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • relevant social history, including identifying if you feel your patient is from a vulnerable population and/or requires a third party to receive correspondence on their behalf
  • interpreter requirements
  • past medical/surgical history
  • medications and dosages
  • onset, duration, and progression of symptoms
  • current medications and dosages
  • allergies and sensitivities
  • presenting symptoms
  • management history including:
    • injury/trauma if relevant
    • onset and duration
    • severity
    • pain
    • associated features, e.g. functional impairment, range of motion (ROM)
    • treatments trialled/implemented prior to referral
  • ultrasound (US) – ganglion

Additional information to assist triage categorisation

  • photograph including disposable measurement tool – with patient’s consent, where secure image transfer, identification and storage is possible

Clinical management advice

Please note that hand and wrist referrals can be managed by the following specialist services: 

SA Health plastic and reconstructive surgery services do not provide treatment for the following conditions:

  • lipomas
  • naevi (melanocytic/pigmented)
  • sebaceous cysts of the torso and lower extremities
  • seborrheic keratoses
  • skin tags
  • warts
  • xanthelasma.

Most people with ganglion cysts do not require treatment. If your ganglion is impacting hand function, it may be appropriate for this to be reviewed in a hand clinic.

Consider referring hand ganglion/s to allied health before plastic surgery to exhaust conservative management options.

It is strongly recommended that people who smoke or vape stop 3 months prior to consultation. Smoking/vaping is associated with delayed healing. Please refer to useful resources section for further information.

If the patient requires urgent attention and/or fulfils category 1 triage criteria, please contact the on-call registrar to discuss and ensure your referral has been received.

All new referrals will be triaged by a consultant and appointment times scheduled according to clinical urgency.

Clinical resources

Consumer resources