Ovarian Cysts

What is an Ovarian Cyst?

An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac or pouch that 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.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts

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.

Ovarian Cyst Diagnosis

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 gynaecologist may order blood tests to measure tumour markers (substances produced by certain types of cysts), which give useful information in the diagnosis and prognosis.

Treatment Options for Ovarian Cysts

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 resolve, is larger in size or causes pain. Cystectomy is a surgical excision of an ovarian cyst.

How is Cystectomy Performed?

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 in which a laparoscope, a long thin instrument with a camera attached at one end, is used to clearly view the surgical site. The procedure is usually performed under general anaesthesia. A small incision is made below the navel. A laparoscope is inserted through this incision to view 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 Cystectomy?

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.

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