Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
A health care practitioner may perform the following tests to determine if a woman has an ovarian cyst
or to help characterize the type of cyst that is present:
Endovaginal ultrasound: This type of imaging test is a special form of ultrasound developed to examine
the pelvic organs and is the best test for diagnosing an ovarian cyst. A cyst can be diagnosed based on its appearance on the ultrasound.
An endovaginal ultrasound is a painless procedure that resembles a pelvic exam. A
thin, covered wand or probe is placed into the vagina, and the examiner directs the probe toward the uterus and ovaries.
This type of ultrasound produces a better image
than a scan through the abdominal wall can because the probe can be positioned closer to the ovaries.
Using an endovaginal ultrasound, the internal cystic structure may be categorized as simple (just fluid filled), complex (with areas of fluid mixed with solid material), or completely solid (with no obvious fluid).
Other imaging: CT or
MRI scanning may aid in assessing the extent of
surgery: In this procedure the surgeon makes small incisions through which a thin scope (laparoscope) can pass into the abdomen. The surgeon identifies the cyst through the scope and may remove the cyst or take a biopsy from it.
Serum CA-125 assay: This blood test checks for a
substance called CA-125, which is associated with
ovarian cancer (the CA stands for cancer antigen). This test is used in the assessment of epithelial ovarian cancer and may help determine if an ovarian mass is harmless or cancerous.
However, sometimes benign conditions such as endometriosis or
uterine fibroids may result in the elevated levels of CA-125
in the blood, so the test does not positively establish the diagnosis of ovarian
Hormone levels: A blood test to check LH, FSH, estradiol, and testosterone levels
may indicate potential problems concerning these hormone levels.
Pregnancy testing: The treatment of ovarian cysts is different for a pregnant woman than it is for a nonpregnant woman. An ectopic pregnancy
(pregnancy outside the uterus) must be ruled out because some of the symptoms
of ectopic pregnancy may be similar to those of ovarian cysts.
Culdocentesis: This test involves taking a fluid sample from the pelvis with a needle
inserted through the vaginal wall behind the uterine cervix.