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Laparoscopic Surgery Versus Abdominal Surgery for Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts and other noncancerous (benign) growths can usually be removed through a small incision (laparoscopy). But experts sometimes disagree over whether to use laparoscopy or a larger abdominal incision (laparotomy) to investigate suspected ovarian cysts.

  • Some experts think laparoscopy may be appropriate for women who have a low risk for ovarian cancer.
  • Laparoscopy may be an option if the ovarian cyst does not look like cancer and is small enough to be removed through a small incision.
  • Laparoscopy has fewer risks and a faster recovery time than laparotomy.

Surgery through a large abdominal incision (laparotomy) is more likely to be recommended when:

  • Masses are present in both ovaries.
  • The ovarian mass is larger than 3 in. (7.6 cm).
  • Other tests, such as an ultrasound exam or Doppler flow studies, suggest that the mass is not a simple functional cyst.
  • Cancer is suspected.

Ovarian cancer requires surgical removal by laparotomy. This allows the surgeon to carefully remove all possible cancer.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between an ovarian cancer and an ovarian cyst before surgery. Should a laparoscopic surgery reveal signs of possible cancer, the surgeon then makes a larger incision.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised October 12, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 12, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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