There are various types of surgical ovarian procedures. The type of surgery depends on what kind of problem a woman is experiencing.
Ovarian cysts: An ovarian cystectomy is a procedure to remove a cyst from an ovary. A cyst is a fluid-filled structure on the surface of an ovary. There are many different types of ovarian cysts and most of them are benign (not cancerous).
A cystectomy is often performed laparoscopically, in which small incisions are made below the navel and a thin tube with a camera on the end is inserted. A video screen helps guide the surgeon’s hands as he/she inserts instruments into the incisions and removes the cyst. Sometimes, a robotic-assisted laparoscopic ovarian cystectomy can be performed in which instruments are guided by the surgeon through robotic arms using the da Vinci® surgery system.
Ovarian cancer: Surgery is the main treatment for most ovarian cancers. What kind of ovarian cancer surgery performed depends on the type of tumor, the stage of the cancer (whether it has spread beyond the ovary), and the patient’s general health. Minimally invasive surgery may be performed to determine the stage of the cancer.
Often surgeons will perform a hysterectomy to remove the uterus, as well as both ovaries and the fallopian tubes (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy). Lymph nodes and tissue from the abdomen may also be removed. Often the procedure can be performed laparoscopically. But ovarian cancers that have spread usually require abdominal surgery.
Surgical treatment also depends on the type of ovarian cancer:
- Epithelial ovarian cancer is a type of ovarian cancer that occurs when cells form in the tissue covering the ovary. Debulking surgery will be performed for patients with epithelial ovarian cancer that has spread throughout the abdomen. In debulking, surgeons will remove as much of the tumors as possible and may remove part of other organs, such as the colon or bladder.
- Ovarian germ cell tumor is a disease in which cancer cells form in the germ (egg) cells of the ovary. Most ovarian germ cell tumors are treated with a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. If the cancer is in only one ovary and the patient still wants to be able to have children, only the ovary containing the cancer and the fallopian tube on the same side are removed.
- Ovarian stromal tumors start from tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian stromal tumors are often found in just one ovary, and ovarian removal surgery may be limited to that single ovary. If the cancer has spread, more tissue may need to be removed. This could mean a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and even debulking surgery.
For more information about Gynecologic Surgery at Holy Cross Health, please fill out our brief contact form or call Stephanie Heller, program director at 301-754-7501.
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