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Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are common and can arise spontaneously on the surface of the ovary. They expand and contract in response to the menstrual cycle, and can sometimes grow to significant size. These fluid-filled sacs can press against the rest of the ovary and against surrounding organs causing pain and functional problems.

In most women ovarian cysts are noncancerous and cause no symptoms. They may recede during the nonestrous portion of the menstrual cycle and may disappear over a matter of time. Cysts that develop from a follicle in the ovary are called functional cysts. Less common cysts are dermoid cysts, cystadenomas and endometriomas (which develop as a result of endometriosis). The latter condition as well as polycystic ovarian syndrome (in which a woman develops many small cysts in her ovaries) can affect fertility.

Only cysts that are persistent, that cause symptoms, and that fail to respond to medical therapy will require removal.

Watching For The Need For Treatment

A cyst that is large, persistent or symptomatic, calls for evaluation. The Virtua team commonly takes advantage of ultrasound to determine the nature of a cyst. The first treatment strategy may be watchful waiting, to see if the cyst shrinks and resolves on its own.

Complications from cysts include rupture or bleeding. These masses can also become twisted, causing additional pain.

Read about this patient’s case:
Easy cyst removal with minimally invasive, laparoscopic, robotic-assisted surgery at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes.

Using the Best Operative Solution When Surgery is Necessary

Cysts in the ovary may respond to medical treatment, usually birth control pills, which also reduce the likelihood that new cysts will develop. In other cases, cysts may require surgical removal. Virtua’s staff of experienced gynecologic surgeons uses laparoscopic and robotic tools to minimize the invasiveness of surgical interventions for ovarian cysts.

In ovarian cystectomy, the team removes the cyst and spares the ovary. In most cases, the Virtua surgeon can offer cyst removal laparoscopically, so that patients avoid open surgery. In addition, the team’s capabilities in using the newer robotic laparoscopic system provides for maneuverability that brings even better opportunity to elect laparoscopy and avoid open surgery, including for complex cysts. For some patients, removal of the ovary as well may be necessary.

If the cyst is suspicious for cancer or is in found to be cancerous, the Virtua gynecologist consults and confers with the oncologist for patient care and management. Cysts that develop after menopause are more likely to be cancerous. The treatment for a cancerous ovarian cyst is usually a hysterectomy and removal of both ovaries.

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