How Ultrasound Can Help Detect and Diagnose Ovarian Cysts

An ovarian cyst is a solid or fluid filled sac that can form on or inside the ovaries. There are various types of cysts, and they can develop for various reasons. Early detection is critical to get a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Doctors often use ultrasound to detect and diagnose ovarian cysts because it is fast, safe, painless, and offers a real time view of the reproductive organs. If you suspect you have a cyst, you may be wondering how ultrasound can help detect and diagnose ovarian cysts. Let’s explore this further.

What You Need To Know About Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are either fluid-filled or solid, and they occur for a variety of reasons. There are risks involved, so it’s important to know about them.

Types of Cysts

There are two main types of ovarian cysts: functional and pathological cysts. Functional or physiological cysts, such as follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts, are the most common, forming during the menstrual cycle. They are typically harmless and resolve on their own. Pathological cysts can be either benign or malignant. The commonest benign cysts are dermoid cysts and endometriomas. Malignant ovarian cysts include borderline and cancerous ovarian cysts.

Ovarian Cyst Symptoms

Sometimes ovarian cysts present asymptomatically; othertimes, they are accompanied by various symptoms. If you have an ovarian cyst, you may experience changes in the menstrual cycle, bloating, lower abdominal pain, pain over the region of the ovarian cyst, painful intercourse, breast tenderness, painful bowel movements, and pelvic discomfort.

The Role of Ultrasound in Detection and Diagnosis

Ultrasound uses sound waves to form images of the internal organs in the same way bats and dolphins use sound waves to navigate their environment. Ultrasound has been a critical development in the medical field, enabling doctors to monitor the health and development of a pregnant mother and her fetus, as well as diagnose various diseases and conditions. Gynaecological specialists use abdominal ultrasound or transvaginal ultrasound methods to examine a patient. A transvaginal ultrasound offers a clearer and more detailed image of the reproductive organs, while an abdominal ultrasound is more commonly used for pregnant patients.

Ultrasound can detect unusual formations and denser tissue masses. This imaging tool provides additional useful information, such as the cyst’s morphological appearance, contents, location, size, type (cystic, solid or both), number of locules, vascular content and various other characteristics. In addition to the ovarian cyst, ultrasound can help detect complications such as torsion, rupture, and haemorrhage from the cyst.

Treatment of Ovarian Cysts

The patient symptoms and type of ovarian cyst determine the subsequent management plan. Functional or physiological ovarian cysts can be managed expectantly and when the patient is rescanned in 6-8 weeks, the vast majority of these ovarian cysts resolve. Patients with symptomatic benign ovarian cysts should be referred to a gynaecologist for discussion about the merits of laparoscopic surgery to remove the ovarian cyst. In rare occasions when there is a borderline or cancerous ovarian cyst present, the patient will be referred to a gynaecological oncologist for surgery.

Transvaginal ultrasound performed by an experienced operator at OMNI Ultrasound will assist your doctor in assessing the risk of benignity vs malignancy.

Ultrasound is a powerful diagnostic tool and has become an indispensable imaging tool for doctors and gynaecologists when assessing ovarian cysts. If you think you have an ovarian cyst or need a second opinion to assess your ovaries, please get a referral to have a pelvic ultrasound at OMNI.

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care

Condous performs Advanced Endosurgery procedures for women needing intervention for pelvic masses, adnexal pathology, severe endometriosis or hysterectomy. He also runs ‘Hands on’ Live Sheep Laparoscopic Workshops for gynaecologists at Camden Veterinarian School.
Having completed an undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide, he left Australia in 1993 and moved to London where he completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. From 2001 to 2003 Condous worked as a Senior Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital, London. At St George’s he set up the Acute Gynaecology Unit, the first in the United Kingdom. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in Early Pregnancy and especially the management of pregnancies of unknown location (PULs). Condous has developed many mathematical models for the prediction of outcome of PULs which have been featured in numerous peer review journals. In 2005, he returned to Australia where he completed his Laparoscopic Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Royal North Shore, Sydney.

Condous was appointed as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Senior Lecturer at Nepean Hospital in 2006 and soon was made Associate Professor. In 2010, he was made Departmental Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nepean Hospital. He obtained the MRCOG in 1999 and was made FRANZCOG in 2005. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Medicine (MD), University of London, for his thesis entitled: “The management of pregnancies of unknown location and the development of new mathematical models to predict outcome”.

Condous has edited three books including the “Handbook of Early Pregnancy Care”, published over 100 papers in international journals and is internationally renowned for his work in Early Pregnancy. He is the Associate Editor for Gynaecologic Obstetric Investigation, which is a European based journal, as well as the Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (AJUM). He is on the organising committee and is an invited speaker at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) Scientific meeting in Sydney 2013. His current research interests relate to the management of ectopic pregnancy, 1st trimester growth, PULs and miscarriage and the use of transvaginal ultrasound (in particular sonovaginography, to predict posterior compartment deep infiltrating rectovaginal endometriosis).Condous is also actively involved with post-graduate education including the annual running of the Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological Ultrasound Interactive Courses for Sonologists, Radiologists, Sonographers and Gynaecologists in Australia.