Oophorectomy

Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of one or both the ovaries. Ovaries are the prime female reproductive organs which are responsible for the production of several hormones, controlling the menstrual cycle and also producing the female gamete. Oophorectomy has to be done in the case of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian torsion or tumors in the ovary. An oophorectomy is often done along with a Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or a Salpingectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes). 

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The signs / symptoms that start to appear which indicate the necessity of an Oophorectomy include- 

  • Bloating in the abdomen
  • Pain in the pelvic region
  • Changes in urination pattern and bowel movements
  • Fatigue and Weakness
  • Changes in the appetite
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Difficulty in becoming pregnant

Ovarian cancer and other disorders of the ovary can be diagnosed by several imaging tests such as MRI scan and CT scan. A physical examination by the doctor feeling your abdominal region can help find lumps or growths in the ovaries. Blood tests must be performed to find substances produced by ovarian cancer cells. An abdominal ultrasound produces detailed images of the ovaries by using high frequency sound waves. A pap smear must be carried out to detect any other abnormalities.

Oophorectomy can be of the following types-

  • Unilateral Oophorectomy is the removal of one of the ovaries
  • Bilateral Oophorectomy involves the removal of both the ovaries
  • Salpingo-Oophorectomy is the procedure in which the fallopian tubes as well as the ovaries are removed

There are different approaches to an Oophorectomy such as- 

  • Open Abdominal Surgery- A large incision is made in the abdomen to remove the ovaries.
  • Laparoscopic Procedure- Small incisions are made in the abdomen and a laparoscope is used to get pictures of the ovaries. This procedure involves less pain, lower risk of infection and a shorter recovery time.
  • Robotic Surgery- This approach is carried out by a robot controlled by the doctor. It involves larger precision.

There are several risks involved in an Oophorectomy. There may be bleeding during the surgery and blood clots may also form. Infection may occur at the site of incision and scar tissue may form. There are chances of the tumor to rupture while incision which increases the risk of spreading of cancer cells. An oophorectomy may also cause damage to the urinary tract organs or cause a hernia. 

After an Oophorectomy, it is essential to take lots of rest and to not engage in strenuous physical activities. Sexual intercourse and using tampons should be avoided for at least several days after the surgery. There may be sight vaginal bleeding and discharge for which sanitary napkins must be used. It is necessary to keep walking to avoid blood clots in the legs and do minimal exercise.