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Surgery for Ovarian Cysts

Surgery Overview

When an ovarian 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). But if there is any concern about cancer, you may have a laparotomy. It gives the best view of the abdominal organs and the pelvic organs. Then, if the doctor finds ovarian cancer, it can be safely removed.

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.

What To Expect

General anesthesia usually is used during surgery.

After a laparoscopy, you can usually resume normal activities within a day. But you should avoid strenuous activity or exercise for about a week.

After a laparotomy, you may stay in the hospital from 2 to 4 days. You can return to your usual activities in 4 to 6 weeks.

Why It Is Done

Surgery for an ovarian cyst may be advised in the following situations:

  • An ovarian cyst is large.
  • An ovarian cyst is causing symptoms, such as pain.
  • An ovarian cyst that is being watched does not get smaller or go away in 2 to 3 months.
  • It's not clear by the ultrasound exam which type of cyst you have. Surgery can help confirm a diagnosis.
  • You have an ovarian cyst and have been through menopause (postmenopausal).
  • 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

Risks of ovarian surgery include the following:

  • Ovarian cysts may come back after a cystectomy.
  • Pain after surgery.
  • 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.

Credits

Current as of: February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology