Ovarian Cysts


An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman’s ovary. They are very common and do not usually cause any symptoms.

In most cases, they are benign, harmless and usually disappear without the need for treatment. However, if the cyst is large or causing symptoms, it may need to be surgically removed.

An ovarian cyst will usually only cause symptoms if it ruptures (leaks or bursts), bleeds or twists on itself (torts) blocking the blood supply to the ovaries. This is the case, women often experience pelvic pain.

Ovarian cysts can also become very large over time and women may notice swelling or pressure symptoms in there pelvis or abdomen

Diagnosis is often by ultrasound in the first instance.

If the gynaecologist wishes to try and exclude malignancy sometimes a CT scan is indicated A blood test called a CA 125 (a tumour marker) can be helpful in these cases but it must be remembered that it can be non specific elevated for many other benign conditions also.

Treatment

If not too large, asymptomatic and simple looking often observation a repeat scan after 3-4 months to look for resolution is reasonable.

If surgery is required and there is no suspicion of malignancy this is can almost always be performed through laparoscopy “keyhole surgery”. The surgeon should consider fertility, hormonal status in undertaking the surgery i.e. try and remove just the cyst and preserve the ovary.