Ovarian Cysts Symptoms & Treatment
What are the symptoms of ovarian cysts and what treatment is available?
An ovarian cyst is a fluid collection within the ovary. Ovarian cysts are very common and most are benign (non-cancerous). Ovarian cysts, if large enough, can cause pelvic pain usually localized to one side. Symptoms associated with rupture of an ovarian cyst are very abrupt pain that can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and low grade fever. These symptoms can also be associated with ovarian torsion, or a twisting of the ovary that prevents adequate blood flow to it. Sometimes the weight of the cyst can cause torsion. A pelvic ultrasound including evaluation of blood flow (called a Doppler ultrasound) to the ovary is indicated in such a case. If ovarian torsion is found, prompt surgical intervention to restore the blood flow is needed. Fortunately, most ovarian cysts cause minimal if any symptoms and they often resolve on their own. Ultrasound is most commonly used to diagnose cysts and follow them to ensure resolution. Pelvic CT and MRI can also be useful in certain circumstances.
Occasionally, ovarian cysts do not go away, or because of their size and/or symptoms, they require surgical intervention. Our approach is to remove such cysts using the laparoscope rather than through a traditional open surgery. Most often this will be an outpatient procedure. This minimally invasive approach to ovarian cysts can result in a quicker and more comfortable recovery.
There are certain characteristics of cysts that make them more likely to be cancerous. The symptoms of a potentially cancerous cyst include more solid appearing ovarian masses, changes in blood flow to the ovary, and the development of a generous fluid collection in the abdomen and pelvis. If these or other findings suggest the cyst may be cancerous, we will refer you to a gynecologic oncologist (cancer specialist) who uses minimally invasive approaches.