An ovarian polyp is a benign growth on the surface of an ovary. The two types of polyps that occur on an ovary are pedunculated and sessile polyps. Not all polyps will cause symptoms, but some can lead to difficulties and may require surgical removal.
Polyps form on various mucous membranes throughout the human body. This includes the lining of the colon and the small intestine. Polyps are most commonly found along the lining of the uterus and on the cervix. Various types of polyps include cervical, endometrial, and endocervical polyps.
Gynecologists can diagnose the presence of an ovarian polyp with the use of several tests. Ultrasounds and x-rays are imaging tests that can provide physicians with important information about the size, shape, and type of the ovarian polyp. Regular visits to the gynecologist and pap smears are also important in the diagnosis and treatment of a polyp.
Pedunculated and sessile polyps can be found on the ovaries. Both stem from an abnormal growth of tissue. Pedunculated polyps have a stalk, or pedicle, which attaches them to the ovary. Sessile polyps attach directly to the ovary with a flat base.
Symptoms related to an ovarian polyp vary depending on the size and location of the polyp. Those with small polyps may not experience any symptoms at all, and they may only be discovered upon a routine exam or during other testing procedures. Larger polyps can cause bleeding and abdominal cramps. Bleeding can occur outside of normal menstruation, and can also become heavier during menstruation if polyps exist.
Physicians will use a variety of factors to help them determine if removal will be necessary. Observation, such as regularly scheduled ultrasounds, can help physicians track any growth or changes in polyps. Large polyps or those with troubling growth rates may need to be surgically removed.
Polyps can be removed by a variety of surgical procedures. Options include removal by forceps or removal during more complicated procedures, such as a hysterectomy. Surgery typically involving a simple removal is done on an outpatient basis, with instructions to limit activity for several days and take any prescribed pain medication as necessary.
After removal, a biopsy will be done to determine if the growth has become malignant. Malignancy is generally rare with polyps in general, but testing is a necessary part of ensuring the health and safety of the patient. Polyps can typically be attributed to atypical cells and infection.