DISORDERS OF THE OVARY AND FALLOPIAN TUBE
Anatomy and Physiology:
Reproductive age – ovaries measure 1.5 x 2.5 x 4.0 cm
Menopausal age – ovaries measure 2.0 x 2.0 x 1.0 cm
Fallopian Tubes - 7 to 10 cm tubular structure arising from the uterus.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A disorder of androgen metabolism, which
results in chronic anovulation. These patients are often obese and frequently have insulin
resistance. They usually present with absent or irregular bleeding, mild hirsutism, and
frequently infertility. Their physical exam is frequently normal except for having a
weight in excess of their ideal body weight, oily skin, and increased body hair growth.
The main concern in providing care for these patients is the protection of the
endometrium from the effects of unopposed estrogen. These patients frequently develop
endometrial hyperplasia and are at much higher risk of the eventual development of
endometrial cancer. If the patient has had more that a year of anovulation, office
endometrial biopsy should be performed to evaluate for hyperplasia or cancer. The
patient with normal pathology should be cycled with monthly progesterone. This can be
done with birth control pills or medroxyprogesterone.
The routine physical examination of all women should include a pelvic
examination once the woman has turned 18 or becomes sexually active. This
examination should include a careful bimanual palpation of the uterus and ovaries. The
presence of a mass on pelvic examination does not ensure that it is gynecologic in origin.
Refer to list for other possible explanations for a pelvic mass (34.2). A number of
symptoms suggest the presence of a pelvic mass. Unfortunately, many masses including
cancer can be asymptomatic. Women who have ovarian cancer often present with
feelings of pelvic pressure, bloating, dull pelvic pain or bladder pressure. In most
instances the pain begins gradually and progressively increases. Advanced pelvic masses
can present with increased abdominal girth; masses that are palpable even to the patient,
or obstructed bowel or ureter.
Adnexal Torsion: Adnexal torsion occurs when an ovarian mass rotates on its
pedicle, the infundibulopelvic ligament. It can occur at any age, and is more common
during pregnancy. It usually requires the presence of a preexisting adnexal mass to incite
the torsion. Torsion presents as the sudden onset of severe abdominal pain, often with
low-grade fever, nausea and vomiting. Torsion is a surgical emergency and requires
immediate laparotomy or laparoscopy. If the ovary is clearly infarcted, it is removed.
Conservative therapy is possible in women of reproductive age. The torsion is reduced
and a cystectomy is performed if necessary.
Ovarian Cyst Rupture: Any non-solid mass has the potential to rupture and release
its contents into the peritoneal cavity. The contents can be very irritating and cause a
severe chemical peritonitis. Most cyst rupture occurs in reproductive-age women, and is
usually related to the midcycle of follicular cysts. Patients with cyst rupture often
describe the sudden onset of severe abdominal pain, frequently beginning in a single
location and gradually spreading. Low-grade fever is very common. Physical
examination can be remarkable for signs of peritoneal irritation, adnexal tenderness on
pelvic exam, and cervical motion tenderness. Most cyst ruptures can be managed with
pain control until the irritating fluid has been resorbed through the peritoneum. Some
cysts, especially corpus luteum cyst, can hemorrhage.
Physiologic Cyst: Among reproductive-age women, the overwhelming majority
of ovarian cyst is physiologic in nature, related to the normally occurring cysts of the
menstrual cycle. During the early part of the menstrual cycle, a single dominant follicle is
selected and progressively grows. Under normal circumstances, this cyst grows to 1 to 2
cm in diameter and ruptures approximately 14 days prior to the onset of menses,
releasing and egg into the peritoneal cavity. Many women are aware of this happening,
and report monthly mid-cycle mild unilateral discomfort as the follicular cyst expands
and ruptures, a phenomenon known as “mittelschmerz”. The patient with suspected
follicular cyst rupture could be managed conservatively, provided she is
hemodynamically stable. The pain from the cyst usually resolves over the course of 48
hours. Cyst, which persists through two menstrual cycles, may require surgical
evaluation. The stable patient with the presumed diagnosis of follicular cyst rupture
should be reexamined 48h after the initial event, assuming that nothing has occurred to
prompt earlier evaluation or intervention. If pain persist or worsens, surgical evaluation
may be warranted. A small subset of patients will have recurrent symptomatic cyst
rupture. Use of a monophasic oral contraceptive pill containing 35 micrograms of ethinyl
estradiol suppresses most ovulation and gives the patients relief. Oral contraceptives do
not treat ovarian cyst already present.
Common ultrasound findings more likely characteristic of benign or malignant
ovarian cysts are listed below.
Ca-125, a tumor marker, has received much attention. Levels are elevated in
many women who have certain histologic types of ovarian cancer, particularly serous
cystadenocarcinomas. Ca-125 is also elevated with endometriosis, severe bowel
conditions, and varies with the menstrual cycle. It can also be normal in women with
early ovarian cancer. It should not be used in the evaluation of premenopausal women
with ovarian cyst.
Masses that seem to be neoplastic, and particularly those that are suggestive of
malignancy, require immediate attention. The first line of treatment for ovarian cancer is
surgical. The ultrasound exam is not completely diagnostic.
Small ovarian cyst in post-menopausal women appears to be quite common. Cyst
have been demonstrated in 10 – 15 % of postmenopausal women. Attempting to detect
cancer while minimizing surgery on patients with benign lesions remains one of the most
challenging problems of gynecology.
List of benign ovarian masses:
Benign Cystic Teratomas
Benign Disorders of the Fallopian Tubes:
Paratubal cyst are thin-walled, simple, clear, fluid-filled cysts. The are usually
small but can grow quite large. The are usually incidental findings on ultrasound or at
gynecologic surgery. They are almost without exception benign, and seldom cause
problems, except rare torsion and cyst ruptures.
Tubo-ovarinan abscess can result in masses that are quite large, as they combine
tube, ovary, and a phlegmon of matted bowel. Tubo-ovarian abscess is very rare in
postmenopausal women and requires surgical exploration.
Hydrosalpinx is a common sequelae of acute salpingitis. The are usually small
but can be as large as 5 to 10 cm and are sometimes incidental findings on pelvic exam.
They are formed from the dilated tubes created by tubal abscesses, now filled with sterile
serous fluid. They are usually not symptomatic and only need to be removed if necessary
to differentiate them form ovarian neoplasms.