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Hereditary Cancer Info > Risk Management > Surgical Removal of Ovaries & Tubes

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Surgical Removal of Ovaries & Tubes

Learn about the steps that people at high risk for cancer can take to manage their risk and protect their health.

Laparoscopy vs. laparotomy

The ovaries and tubes are located within the abdominal cavity. Oophorectomy requires the surgeon be able to make incisions into the abdominal cavity to visualize the ovaries and tubes, look for abnormalities, remove the organs and prevent internal bleeding. There are two general surgical approaches to ovary and tube removal: laparotomy and laparoscopy. Laparotomy involves a large incision in the lower abdomen. It involves a longer recovery, more postoperative pain, a longer hospital stay, and more potential complications than laparoscopy. If a woman is also having her uterus removed (hysterectomy) the surgeon can do that during the same procedure and through the same incision.

In a laparoscopic surgery the surgeon inserts a small camera called a laparoscope, through a small incision in the belly button. With this camera, the surgeon can see the abdominal and pelvic area including the ovaries and the tubes on a monitor. The surgeon then inserts the surgical instruments needed through two or three additional incisions. The ovaries are removed through one of these incisions or through a small incision in the vagina.

Generally speaking, laparoscopic surgery involves less postoperative pain and a shorter recovery than laparotomy and is often performed as an outpatient surgery. However, this type of surgery requires a surgeon who is experienced with laparoscopic techniques. Further, not every woman is a candidate for a laparoscopic procedure.  One potential complication of laparoscopic surgery is the need for the surgeon to switch to a laparotomy incision during the procedure. This might occur for many reasons, including the need for better visualization of the pelvis, or controlling bleeding during the procedure.If a laparoscopic surgery must be converted to a laparotomy, the recovery and incision will be that of a laparotomy.

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