What is an ovarian cyst?
An ovarian cyst is a fluid filled sac or pouch which forms on the ovary. Ovarian cysts, in most cases are harmless and resolve on their own. If the cyst is cancerous, it may cause problems and thus needs medical intervention. Ovarian cysts are common in women of childbearing age.
What are the symptoms?
Ovarian cysts are symptomless most of the time but may cause variable abdominal or pelvic pain or pain during intercourse. If the cyst is large, it may cause twisting of the ovary that leads to pain.
How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?
Ovarian cysts may be diagnosed during a routine pelvic examination, such as a Pap smear. Your doctor may recommend tests such as vaginal ultrasound, CT or MRI scan. If you are a menopausal woman, then in addition to ultrasound your gynecologist may order blood tests to measure tumor markers (substances produced by certain types of cysts) which give useful information in the diagnosis and prognosis.
What are the treatment options?
Most ovarian cysts will resolve on their own without any treatment. Birth control pills may be prescribed to reduce the formation of new ovarian cysts. Surgery to remove the cyst is an option if the cyst does not go away, is larger in size, or causes pain. Cystectomy is a surgical excision of an ovarian cyst.
How is cystectomy done?
Cystectomy is a surgical procedure during which the ovarian cyst is removed either using laparoscopy or an open surgery approach. A laparoscopic cystectomy procedure is a minimally invasive surgery during which a laparoscope, a long thin instrument with a camera attached at one end is used. The procedure is usually done under general anesthesia and a small incision is made below the navel. A laparoscope is inserted through this incision to see the inside of your pelvis and abdomen. Carbon dioxide gas is introduced into the abdominal cavity to create more space to work. Your surgeon identifies the cyst through the scope and removes the cyst. This technique is usually used to remove small cysts.
A laparoscopic cystectomy removes only the cyst leaving the ovaries intact. However, if the cyst is too large or connected to ovarian tissue, your surgeon removes all or part of the ovary.
What should I expect after this procedure?
Following ovarian cyst removal, complete recovery usually takes about one to two weeks. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve your pain. The ovaries return to normal function after a cystectomy is performed.