Looks at surgery for ovarian cysts. Explains why surgery is done and how well it works. Discusses what to expect after surgery. Covers risk and points to consider when facing surgery for ovarian cysts. Includes questions for your doctor.
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, adhesions, 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 is found.
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 likely).
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 (oophorectomy).
Risks of ovarian surgery include the following:
Ovarian cysts may come back after a cystectomy.
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.
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.