What is a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy?

A bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is the surgical removal of both ovaries and both fallopian tubes to treat ovarian cancer. The goal of the procedure is to remove any cancerous cells and prevent the chance for recurrence. 

Who is a candidate for a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy?

A bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is a treatment option for women who have ovarian cancer, endometriosis, benign tumors or cysts, pelvic infection or ectopic pregnancy. 

It also may be used to reduce the risk of developing ovarian or breast cancer in women who are at high risk.

What are the complications of a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy?

Because both ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed, you will be unable to conceive a child after a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Other complications of a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Blood clot
  • Nerve damage
  • Scar tissue formation
  • Obstruction of the bowel
If you are perimenopausal and have the ovaries removed, you may experience symptoms such as:
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

What to expect during a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy?

What to expect during a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy depends on the type of surgery you are having. There are a variety of ways a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy can be performed including:

Open abdominal surgery
If you are having an open bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, you will need general anesthesia so you do not feel the procedure. Your surgeon will make an incision in the abdomen and will remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes. 

Laparoscopic surgery
A laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy can be performed with general or local anesthesia. During the procedure, your doctor will make several small incisions and insert surgical instruments, a light and camera into the incisions. The camera and light enable the surgeon to see the ovaries and fallopian tubes clearly. When in position, the surgeon will remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes through the small incisions.

Robotic surgery
Robotic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is similar to a laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. During a robotic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, a robotic arm, which is carefully manned by a gynecological surgeon, will be used to locate and remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Recovery from a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy

Many patients who have a laparoscopic or robotic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy may be able to go home the day of the procedure. Other patients may need an overnight hospital stay after a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. It may take as long as three weeks to return to your normal activity level after a laparoscopic or robotic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

Patients who have an open bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy will need to recover in the hospital for a few days after the surgery. You can expect to slowly return to your normal activity level for the eight weeks after a bilateral open salpingo-oophorectomy.

When you are cleared to be discharged, your care team will provide detailed discharge instructions including:

  • Wound care and bathing - when you can remove bandages, when you can bathe and how to care for your wound.
  • Medications - you will be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection and pain medication to manage any lingering pain.
  • Activity level - you will be given instructions on how quickly you can resume your activity level. Right after the procedure, you will be encouraged to slowly walk around to avoid the formation of blood clots. You also will be discouraged from lifting any heavy objects or engage in any hard exercise for a few weeks following your procedure. 
  • Follow-up appointment schedule.
  • Sexual activity - do not engage in sexual activity until your doctor has cleared you.

If you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor right away:

  • Swelling at the incision site
  • Fever
  • Abnormal wound drainage
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe vaginal bleeding
  • Symptoms of a heart attack such as chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or fainting
  • Difficulty having a bowel movement
  • Abnormal or unpleasant discharge odor

Find an ovarian cancer specialist nearby

Mercy Health locations that can treat you