Definition - What does Salpingo-Oophorectomy mean?

Salpingo-Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of the fallopian or uterine tube/s (salpinx is a tube and salpingectomy is the removal of the tube) and oophorectomy is the surgical removal of an ovary.

A salpingo-oophorectomy can be done on one side, called a unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy; or it can involve the removal of the uterine tubes and ovaries of both the right and left sides, termed as bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO). Unilateral procedures are done in young women who have a future desire of childbearing, whereas women who have completed their family and reached menopause, bilateral procedures can be done when entailed. A bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is usually combined with the surgical removal of the uterus (called hysterectomy).

FertilitySmarts explains Salpingo-Oophorectomy

Although unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is preferred in young women, following are the conditions that warrant unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy:

  • Ruptured ectopic pregnancy where the bleeding cannot be arrested without removal of the tube and ovary
  • To prevent ovarian and fallopian tubal cancer in young women suspected of being high risk for ovarian cancers (such as with an inherited mutation in one of the two breast cancer genes, called breast cancer gene (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene (BRAC2)
  • A non-cancerous ovarian mass in which there is no remaining normal ovarian tissue such as ovarian cysts, fibroma, or teratoma
  • An unresponsive confined pocket of pus in the tube and ovary (termed tubo-ovarian abscess), occurring as a late complication of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Conditions that warrant bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy include:

  • As a preventative measure in women with inherited mutations in genes for ovarian cancer (as aforementioned)
  • Cancerous growth in ovaries or spread of cancer from distant organs (like the stomach) to ovaries
  • At the time of hysterectomy to protect the normal-looking ovaries from developing a disease in the future
  • Tumor of the inner lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer)
  • Endometriosis

The ovaries and fallopian tubes can be approached either via a laparoscopic approach or an abdominal approach. The laparoscopic approach has an added advantage over the abdominal approach as the amount of blood loss is less; not to mention, the length of hospital stay and the recovery time are shorter with the laparoscopic approach.

After general anesthesia, the surgeon will make a cut (incision) in your belly to reach the pelvic organs. The ovary and fallopian tube are then removed, paying special attention to avoid causing damage to the ureter. The surgeon finally stitches all open wounds.

As with any other surgery performed under general anesthesia, reaction to the anesthesia and breathing issues are probable complications. Other complications include bleeding, infection, blood clots in deep leg veins (deep venous thrombosis), or bands of scar tissue (called adhesions) that can lead to pain, blockage, and infertility. Occasionally, other bowel organs or vessels may be damaged during the procedure warranting further surgical repair.

Moreover, owing to the cessation of hormone production that occurs with a bilateral oophorectomy, referred to as surgical menopause, women also lose their ability to conceive. Since the female sex hormones offer protection against heart disease and osteoporosis, women who undergo BSO also become susceptible to these diseases.

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