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4 Things You Need to Know About Removing Ovarian Cysts


Get the Big Picture Before Surgery

Before removing a suspected ovarian cyst, a gynecologist frequently requests additional tests, such as a sonogram and CA-125 blood test. The sonogram allows the doctor the get a better picture of your ovaries, allowing her to see the size of the cyst and its precise location. In addition, a gynecologist sometimes requests a CA-125 test if the patient has an increased risk for ovarian cancer. The CA-125 test checks the level of the CA-125 protein in your blood. CA-125 levels in excess of 35 suggest an increased likelihood that the cyst is cancerous. It's important to recognize that the CA-125 test is not perfect. Sometimes the CA-125 level is high in women who don't have cancer, while it may be low in women who do have cancer.

Risks or Removal

There's a chance that the cyst may return after removal. Scar tissue or adhesions are another issue of concern. In the months and years after surgery, some patients experience growth of scar tissue. Occasionally, this scar tissue is limited to the surgical site; however, it may extend beyond this region to the fallopian tubes and other areas in the pelvis. As with any surgery, there is always a risk for infection to develop. Finally, the surgical procedure to remove an ovarian cyst places the bowel and bladder at risk for damage. While this is rare, it's important to consider the possibility prior to undergoing ovarian cyst removal.

Select the Best Procedure

There are two methods for removing ovarian cysts. Laparoscopic surgery is a less invasive procedure. The doctor makes a small incision in the abdomen, just below the navel. If necessary, the doctor makes one additional incision above the pubic hairline. The doctor then inserts the laparoscope into the primary incision, allowing her to see the cyst. Then, the doctor removes the cyst through the secondary incision. Gynecologists recommend laparoscopic surgery for women at low risk for ovarian cancer, with small and functional ovarian cysts. Doctors perform a laparotomy on women with multiple ovarian cysts or cysts larger than three inches. The laparotomy is preferred for women at risk for ovarian cancer. Patients are under general anesthesia for both surgical procedures. Occasionally, a planned laparoscopic surgery turns into a laparotomy.

Nurture the Body After Surgery

Recovery from ovarian cyst removal surgery depends on the type of surgery. Patients recover more quickly from laparoscopic surgery than laparotomy. Generally, laproscopic surgeries are outpatient procedures, while a laparotomy frequently requires an overnight stay the hospital. Once home from surgery, doctors request that patients restrict activities, such as lifting heavy items or strenuous exercise. Restrictions last for two weeks following laparoscopic surgery and six weeks following laparotomy.

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