When an ovarian growth or cyst needs to be
closely looked at, a surgeon can do so through a small incision using
laparoscopy or through a larger abdominal incision
(laparotomy). Either type of surgery can be used to
diagnose problems such as
ovarian cysts ,
fibroids, and pelvic infection. But if there is any
concern about cancer, you may have a laparotomy. It gives the best view of the
abdominal organs and the
female pelvic organs . Then, if the doctor finds ovarian cancer, he or she can
safely remove it.
During surgery, a noncancerous cyst that is
causing symptoms can be removed (cystectomy), leaving the ovary intact. In some
cases, the entire ovary or both ovaries are removed, particularly when cancer
What To Expect After Surgery
General anesthesia usually is used during surgery.
laparoscopy, you can resume normal activities within a day. But you should
avoid strenuous activity or exercise for about a week.
laparotomy, you may stay in the hospital from 2 to 4 days and return to your
usual activities in 4 to 6 weeks.
Why It Is Done
Surgery is used to confirm the
diagnosis of an ovarian cyst, remove a cyst that is causing symptoms, and rule
out ovarian cancer.
Surgery for an ovarian cyst or growth may be
advised in the following situations:
- Ovarian growths (masses) are present in both
- An ovarian cyst is larger than
3 in. (7.6 cm).
- An ovarian cyst that is being watched does not get smaller or go
away in 2 to 3 months.
- An ultrasound exam suggests that a cyst is
not a simple functional cyst.
- You have an ovarian growth and you:
- Have never had a menstrual period (for
example, a young girl).
- Have been through menopause (postmenopausal woman).
- Use birth control
pills (unless you are using low-dose progestin-only pills or have missed a
pill, which would make an ovulation-related functional cyst more
- Your doctor is concerned that
ovarian cancer may be present. In this case, it is
also advised that you see a gynecologic oncologist.
How Well It Works
An ovarian cyst can be removed from
an ovary (cystectomy), preserving the ovary and your fertility. But it is
possible for a new cyst to form on the same or opposite ovary after a
cystectomy. New cysts can only be completely prevented by removing the ovaries
Risks of ovarian surgery include the
- Ovarian cysts may come back after a
- Pain may not be controlled.
- Scar tissue
(adhesions) may form at the surgical site, on the ovaries or fallopian tubes,
or in the pelvis.
- Infection may develop.
- The bowel or
bladder may be damaged during surgery.
What To Think About
Surgery may be recommended if you
have a large cyst, cysts in both ovaries, or other characteristics that may
suggest ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer can occur in women of all ages, but the
incidence increases after menopause.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology|
|Last Revised||October 8, 2012|