One Individual's Experience With a 9-Pound Ovarian Cyst

At first, healthcare providers had difficulty determining where the cyst was growing.

Modern imaging techniques have made giant abdominal cysts rarer in recent decades. Today, healthcare providers can spot cysts—sacs that fill with fluid or air and are different from tumors—before they grow to be "giant."

Difficulty in Diagnosing an Ovarian Cyst

A 2019 report in the journal BMJ Case Reports described a "giant abdominal cyst" that weighed almost nine pounds. The patient's stomach was so bloated that it kept them from easily reaching their feet and tying their shoelaces. An ultrasound of the abdomen and pelvis revealed a 21-centimeter cyst that was taking up most of the individual's abdominal area, and a CT scan suggested that it could have been coming from the patient's left ovary.

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BMJ Case Reports

Where precisely the cyst was attached was still unclear after an MRI of the pelvis, and it wasn't until surgeons operated to remove it that its origins were determined.

General surgeons performed a laparotomy, which involved cutting into the abdominal wall and removing the cyst. It turned out that it was benign, or non-cancerous, and had been attached to the patient's left ovary.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

There are numerous types of ovarian cysts. According to the Office on Women's Health, the two most common cysts are follicle cysts and corpus luteum cysts. The Office on Women's Health also described many other types of ovarian cysts.

Per the Office on Women's Health, follicle cysts occur when the follicle (the sac where the egg matures during a female's menstrual cycle) doesn't burst to release the egg. Instead, the follicle keeps growing into a cyst. Often, this type of cyst has no symptoms and goes away on its own.

Corpus luteum cysts are another cyst related to a female's menstrual cycle and also involve the follicular sac. In these cysts, the follicle bursts, and the egg is released. However, instead of the follicular sac shrinking, it reseals itself and becomes filled with fluid. Many of these cysts go away on their own. However, they can become larger, up to 4 inches, and cause bleeding and pain.

Other benign (non-cancerous) cysts include endometriomas, dermoids, and cystadenomas. In the case of the patient described in the case report, the type of cyst they had was an ovarian benign serous cystadenoma. The Office on Women's Health explained these cysts are filled with watery fluid and can grow to be large, as happened in the individual's experience.

Possible Complications of Abdominal and Ovarian Cysts

"Giant abdominal cystic masses are a rare occurrence and require resection due to its associated symptoms," the case report said. However, the list of complications that can be traced to such large cysts is long, including bowel obstruction, vomiting, pain, nausea, and distension.

Another complication includes rupturing, which can cause severe upper pelvic or lower abdominal pain, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Ovarian Cyst Symptoms

While the patient's cyst was described as benign, that only means it wasn't cancerous. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, benign ovarian cysts may still cause several symptoms. These include:

  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • Feelings of fullness and abdominal swelling
  • Pain during sex
  • Irregularities with your menstrual cycle
  • New hair growth due to the role ovaries have on hormones

Of these symptoms, the Office on Women's Health explained the most common symptoms include abdominal pressure, swelling, bloating, and pain. These symptoms are typically felt in the lower abdomen on the side where the cyst is located.

If a cyst twists or ruptures, it may cause sudden, severe pain, and an immediate visit to a healthcare provider is necessary. Per Johns Hopkins Medicine, treating a ruptured cyst may include simply keeping track of symptoms and taking pain medicine at home as needed. However, surgery is necessary in some cases, especially when a cyst causes significant bleeding. This is why it is essential to connect with a healthcare provider who can determine the severity of the situation and treat it accordingly.

If you are concerned that you may have an ovarian or abdominal cyst, your healthcare provider can assess your symptoms and help determine your next steps.

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