Complex Ovarian Cyst
Complex Ovarian Cyst
Women concerned about cysts on ovaries may ask the question - what is a
complex ovarian cyst? Cysts on ovaries are sacs or pouches that are filled with fluids and sometimes solid mass. A
complex ovarian cyst is simply a cyst that contains both fluid and solid material. Also known as a complex cyst on
ovary or complicated ovarian cyst, it often develops when the process of ovulation ends abnormally. If not treated,
a complex ovariian cyst can cause serious medical problems. Only rarely does a complex ovarian mass become
The three main types of complex ovarian cysts that occur in women are dermoid ovarian cysts, cystadenomas, and
endometriomas. A dermoid ovarian cyst is a complex cyst filled with
oil or other bodily secretions and tissue such as hair, skin, bones and teeth. Dermoid ovarian cysts can develop in
a women when she is very young, even at the time of her birth, but not show any symptoms until she is older.
Typically a complex ovarian cyst size will range from a few to several inches in diameter.
A cystadenoma is a kind of cyst on ovary that develops on the outer surface of the ovary. Cystadenomas are
grouped into two different types depending on whether the fluid inside the cyst is watery (serous cystadenoma) or
sticky (mucinous cystadenoma). A mucinous cystadenoma can grow very large if untreated, sometimes up to a foot in
diameter several pounds in weight. Usually a cystadenoma cyst must be removed surgically.
Complex Ovarian Cyst Pictures
ovarian mucinous cystadenoma source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/180691375/
An endometrioma contains patches of tissue that are shed by the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus).
Endometrioma cysts are also called a "chocolate cyst" because it often contains
thick dark, old blood. Like other types of cysts on ovaries, an endometrioma can rupture and leak causing pain and
other complications. Typically an endometrioma grows from an inch to several inches (about the size of a softball)
Three types of complex ovarian cysts:
1. Dermoid - a cyst on ovary containing oily fluid and hair, skin, bones or teeth.
2. Cystadenomas - a cyst on the outside surface of the ovary that may grow very large.
3. Endometrioma - contains patches of endometrial tissue and sometimes dark old blood.
Complex Ovarian Cyst Treatment
Treatment options for women with a complex ovarian cyst will depend on the intensity of her symptoms, her age,
and plans if any for pregnancy. The severity of the cyst including its type, how large it has grown, and location
are also important factors. Complex ovarian cyst treatment begins first with a pelvic examination to confirm
diagnosis. Often a patient will be tested for pregnancy to rule out ectopic pregnancy. A series of tests will be
given to determine if cancer is present, which does occur in a small percentage of women with complex ovarian
cysts. Blood tests will also be performed in most cases.
Endometriomas are often treated with surgery. Typically the first step is to drain the complex ovarian cyst of
fluid. The next step involves cutting out the cyst or removing it using laser surgery. In either of these methods
their is considerable risk of damaging the ovaries by scarring or excess heat. If the ovaries are affected during
surgery it may prevent a woman from being able to release an egg and getting pregnant. Another treatment method
that is less risky to the ovaries is to use drug therapy to reduce the size of the cyst after draining, and then
remove it with surgery.
Complex Ovarian Cyst Symptoms
Symptoms are generally like those of ovarian cyst symptoms. In some cases, symptoms
will mimic those of other conditions such as endometriosis
symptoms and ectopic pregnancy. As a cyst expands in size symptoms typically increase in severity. A cyst
that has caused an ovary to twist or rotate will also make symptoms more obvious.
Pelvic pain, especially in the abdominal area and lower back, is the most common symptom. Pain also may occur at
the time of menstruation, during or after sex, and when emptying the bowels. Many women report abnormal periods
that are late, bleed excessively or otherwise irregular. Other symptoms that women may experience include fever,
chills, lightheadedness and vomiting.
Complex Ovarian Cysts and Cancer
While many women during their life will have cysts on ovaries, most will have simple ovarian cysts. Only a small
percentage of women will get a complex ovarian cyst. Unfortunately for those that do, this kind of cyst on ovary
has a higher chance of being malignant (cancerous). Complex ovarian cyst cancer occurs in about 5-15% of all cases
of women with complicated cysts.
A series of blood tests including CA-125 and proteomics are often the first step in determining if cancer is
present. These tests are often inconclusive and thus cannot by themselves diagnosis cancer. Other procedures such
as ultrasound and explorartory surgery are used to help determine if a complex
ovarian cyst is cancerous or not.