Laparoscopic Cystectomy (Cyst Removal)

Laparoscopic cystectomy at a glance

  • Laparoscopic cystectomy is the removal of ovarian cysts, or masses, using laparoscopy, a form of minimally invasive surgery.
  • Laparoscopy is a surgical technique in which a surgeon inserts a small, lighted telescope-like instrument (laparoscope) into the abdomen through a small incision in order to examine or perform surgery.
  • Laparoscopic cystectomy is used to remove cysts and growths on the ovaries that are persistent, enlarging or causing symptoms.
  • The aim of a laparoscopic cystectomy is to preserve the fertility of the patient by removing only the cyst or growth and preserving the remaining ovarian tissue.
  • Laparoscopic cystectomy is only recommended if the cyst or mass is likely benign (noncancerous).

What is laparoscopic cystectomy?

Laparoscopic cystectomy is a minimally invasive procedure used to identify and remove cysts or masses from one or both ovaries. When a cyst needs to be examined more closely or when a patient experiences symptoms as a result of a cyst, a doctor may recommend a laparoscopic cystectomy.

A woman’s age, health history, symptoms and the type of cyst can all play a role in whether a doctor recommends surgical removal. Surgery might be recommended if:

  • The cyst is larger than 3 inches.
  • The cyst does not get smaller or go away after two to three menstrual cycles.
  • The cyst does not appear to be a functional cyst (a cyst that grows as a result of ovulation).
  • The cyst is causing pain or discomfort.

Laparoscopic cystectomy is the preferred surgical procedure for pediatric, teen and reproductive age patients, as the procedure works to preserve the ovary and fertility of the patient. In cases where the cyst is excessively large, malignant cancer is suspected or the patient has reached menopausal age, a surgeon may recommend a different surgical approach and/or removal of the entire ovary.

Read the story, Peyton’s Ovarian Torsion Scare, caused by an ovarian cyst.

What to expect during laparoscopic cystectomy

Laparoscopy is typically performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will inflate the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas to move the abdominal wall away from the organs to make the organs more visible. Once the abdomen is inflated, the laparoscope is inserted through small incisions made near the belly button. Two to three additional incisions are made at the pubic bone and/or on either side of the lower abdomen. Incision length varies but most incisions are between one-quarter inch and three-quarters of an inch in length.

A camera on the end of the laparoscope transmits a live video feed to a screen for the surgeon as he or she performs the procedure. The doctor will examine the cyst and ovary more closely and remove the cyst using surgical tools that pass through the incisions. During a cystectomy the surgeon works carefully so as not to damage the ovary or fallopian tubes (the tubes that connect the ovary to the uterus), and to preserve the fertility of the patient. Sometimes the cyst will rupture during surgery.

Once the cyst has been removed, the surgeon will close the incisions with stitches. Often times women who have had a laparoscopic cystectomy can go home the same day of their surgery. Recovery time does vary from person to person, but many women return to work and light activity within 1-2 weeks of the procedure.

What are the risks of laparoscopic cystectomy?

Laparoscopic cystectomy is a relatively safe procedure, but like most surgical procedures, it does present potential risks to the patient. Our surgeons are careful to mitigate complications and discuss potential risks with each patient. Minor complications such as infection and irritation of the incisions are possible, as are more serious risks such as:

  • Ovarian cysts and endometriomas (cysts in the uterine lining) may reoccur.
  • Anesthesia-related issues.
  • The formation of hematomas, or swelling due to blood outside a vessel.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Blood clot formation in veins that can travel to the lungs.
  • Injury to the ovary or fallopian tube which may require removal.
  • Injury to an abdominal or pelvic organ.

Women who have had previous abdominal surgery, have pelvic adhesions or who are overweight are at a greater risk of complications. Each of our surgeons takes great care to discuss potential risks and recommend the procedure they believe is best for treating the patient.