The Urgency of Ovarian Torsion

The Urgency of Ovarian Torsion

Ovarian torsion occurs when the ovary becomes twisted around the ligaments that support it. While this condition is not common, it rarely goes undetected. Ovarian torsion can cause sudden and severe abdominal pain that is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and cramping. If a twisted ovary is confirmed with imaging, emergency surgery is warranted.

Why Does a Twisted Ovary Cause Severe Pain?

Pain almost always accompanies an ovarian torsion. When the ovary becomes twisted, blood flow is cut off to and from the ovary. This results in swelling of the ovary as well as notable discomfort as tissues fail to receive blood. In many cases, the pain and cramping can come and go as the ovary attempts to twist itself back in proper position. It is cause for an emergency, however, when the pain becomes severe.

What Causes Ovarian Torsion?

There are several reasons for a twisted ovary. However, the most common is the presence of an ovarian cyst. When a cyst develops on the ovary, it can grow in size and weigh down the ovary enough to cause torsion. This condition is also at risk for developing in women who have unstable ovaries, PCOS, long ovarian ligaments or those who have had a tubal ligation.

What Ovarian Torsion Can Mimic?

Since ovarian torsion is rare, it is commonly mistaken for other conditions that involve severe abdominal pain and cramping. Symptoms can resemble that of a urinary tract infection, ectopic pregnancy or even appendicitis. It is important to avoid self-diagnosis when you are experiencing abdominal pain and let you physician rule out these conditions.

Why is Emergency Treatment Necessary?

Besides getting you out of pain as quickly as possible, emergency surgery can be necessary to save your ovary. When the ovary remains twisted and blood flow is cut off or reduced for a prolonged period of time, the tissues of the ovary (and/or fallopian tube) may die (necrosis). In such case, removal of the entire ovary may be required. If the ovary and surrounding tissues are still viable, surgery can untwist the ovary and restore blood flow.

Have more questions about ovarian torsion? Call North Pointe OB/GYN. We specialize in treating a wide variety of gynecological conditions, and our physicians have a strong reputation when it comes to minimally-invasive surgical techniques. 

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