What is a cystectomy?


A cystectomy is a procedure that removes an non-cancerous ovarian cyst or mass.

Why is a cystectomy performed?


The procedure can confirm the diagnosis of an ovarian cyst, remove a cyst that is causing problems or rule out ovarian cancer. There are other reasons to perform a cystectomy, including:


  • Cysts or masses in both ovaries
  • A cyst larger than 3 inches
  • A cyst under observation that does not resolve over several months
  • A cyst that causes pain
  • Cysts that are solid, rather than containing fluid
  • An ultrasound indicates problems with a cyst
  • Any ovarian cyst for patients who
    • Have never had a menstrual cycle (for example, a young girl)
    • Have been through menopause
    • Are using birth control pills, other than low-dose progestin-only pills

An ovarian cyst or mass can be removed from an ovary and preserve fertility, but it is possible for a new cyst or mass to re-form. The risk of new cysts forming only can be completely eliminated by removing the ovaries, a procedure called an oophorectomy.


What happens during a cystectomy?


There are two ways to perform the procedure, depending on the size and ultrasound appearance of the cyst or mass. Both are performed under general anesthesia.


If the cyst is small and is believed to be benign, the doctor could choose to perform a laparoscopic procedure. A small incision is made in the navel area and carbon dioxide is introduced to lift the abdominal wall and create more space for the procedure. Small incisions are made to introduce a laparoscope (camera) and the instruments your surgeon uses to remove the cyst.


If the cyst is larger or there is reason to suspect cancer, your surgeon may choose to perform a laparotomy. For this procedure, larger incisions are made in the abdomen. These allow for removal of the cyst and possibly the affected ovary, uterus, fallopian tubes, fatty tissue called the omentum and surrounding lymph nodes, if necessary.