Ovarian Cysts (cont.)
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What kind of doctor treats ovarian cysts?
A gynecologist is the type of doctor who specializes in conditions affecting the female genital organs, including ovarian cysts. In some cases, primary care providers including family medicine specialists or internists may treat mild cases of ovarian cysts.
How are ovarian cysts diagnosed?
A health-care professional 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:
Vaginal (pelvic) ultrasound: Vaginal (pelvic) ultrasound is a type of imaging, and is a special form of ultrasound developed to examine the pelvic organs. Pelvic ultrasound 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 because the probe can be positioned closer to the ovaries. While performing 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: Under special circumstances, CT or MRI scanning may aid be necessary.
Laparoscopic surgery: With this procedure the surgeon makes small incisions through which a thin scope (laparoscope) can be passed into the abdomen. The surgeon identifies the cyst through the scope and may remove the cyst or take a biopsy of it.
Serum CA-125 assay: This blood test checks for a substance called CA-125, which is associated with the most common type of 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 non-cancerous conditions such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids may result in the elevated levels of CA-125 in the blood. Thus, the test is not diagnostic of ovarian cancer.
Hormone levels: A blood test to check LH, FSH, estradiol, and testosterone levels may indicate problems concerning these hormone levels. These tests are especially helpful in establishing the diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Pregnancy testing: The treatment of ovarian cysts may be different for a pregnant woman. When considering the diagnosis of an ovarian cyst, a pregnancy test should be performed in order to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. Many of the signs and symptoms of an ovarian cyst are also seen with an ectopic pregnancy.
Culdocentesis: This test involves taking a fluid sample from the pelvis with a needle inserted through the vaginal wall behind the uterine cervix. This may occasionally be necessary to rule out active bleeding into the abdominal cavity.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2016
Wayne Blocker, MD
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