Ovarian Cyst Management

What is the most appropriate management for ovarian cysts?

Management of ovarian cysts should be done carefully so as to avoid any subsequent effects. In general, cysts can be managed medically with birth control pills or medicines that affect the pituitary gland. If a patient is found to have an ovarian cyst when she is being evaluated for a tubal reversal surgery, the cysts can be removed during the tubal reversal surgery. If the patient is not being evaluated for a tubal reversal surgery, and surgery is not an option, all medical treatments should be exhausted before surgery is considered.

Medical versus Surgical Ways of Managing Ovarian Cysts:

Women who are not taking oral contraceptives, women who are still at a reproductive age and who suffer no pain, and women who are candidates for tubal reversal or have had a tubal reversal should proceed with the conventional medical approach. This will prevent any potential surgical complication, and is the safest way to proceed initially.

Conventional surgery:  For a non-malignant cyst, conventional surgery may be an option.  This may allow a patient to keep her ovaries and simply have the cysts removed.  This operation is called an ovarian cystectomy. Gynecologists will keep the injury to the tissues at a bare minimum, with precise control of bleeding during the surgery. Side effects may include the development of pain and/or painful “adhesions” on the ovaries, infertility, or excessive sensitivity during intercourse.

Laparoscopic method:  This is the most common modality for an ovarian cystectomy. Small cuts are made in the abdomen rather than conventional surgical techniques.  It is an advance that avoids large incisions, reduces pain, and allows for more rapid healing.  If one of the ovaries has been seriously impacted by the cysts, while the other has been intact, the affected ovary may be removed completely.

Hysterectomy: Surgery will allow the gynecologist to see if a cyst has been the result of  edometriosis and results in a collection of old blood. For a woman who has already given birth to her children, this case of “chocolate cysts,” or an endometrioma, can only be cured by a hysterectomy and removal of both ovaries. This is usually necessary rather than optional in order to resolve the problem forever. According to the severity of disease, the patient’s age, and potential other pelvic complaints, removal of the ovary may be the most indicated course.  The surgery is also obligatory for ovarian cancer as the patients have a low rate of survival otherwise.

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