What is salpingo-oophorectomy?

A salpingo-oophorectomy is an ovarian cancer treatment that involves surgically removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes. If you are having one ovary and fallopian tube removed, it is a unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. When both ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed, it is called a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

In many cases, your doctor may remove your uterus at the same time as he or she removes your ovary and fallopian tube.

Who is a candidate for salpingo-oophorectomy?

Your doctor may recommend a salpingo-oophorectomy if you have ovarian cancer in one of your ovaries. Patients who have a unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy generally would like to have a child and need the healthy ovary and fallopian tube to do so. Once the patient has a child, your doctor may recommend removing the other ovary and fallopian tube to prevent recurrence.

If you have endometriosis, a benign tumor, cyst or abscess, ovarian torsion, pelvic infection or ectopic pregnancy, your doctor may also recommend a salpingo-oophorectomy.

What are the risks of a salpingo-oophorectomy?

Although salpingo-oophorectomy is generally safe, complications can arise during or after the procedure. Complications may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Blood clot
  • Nerve damage
  • Scar tissue formation
  • Obstruction of the bowel

What to expect during a salpingo-oophorectomy?

A salpingo-oophorectomy can be performed via open abdominal surgery, laparoscopic surgery or robotic surgery. What you can expect during the procedure will depend on which procedure that is most appropriate for your case. Your Mercy Health team will evaluate your case to determine which option is most appropriate for you.

Open abdominal surgery
You will need to be under general anesthesia during an open salpingo-oophorectomy, so you do not feel the procedure. During the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in the abdomen and will remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes. 

Laparoscopic surgery
A laparoscopic salpingo-oophorectomy can be performed with general or local anesthesia. During the procedure, your doctor will insert surgical instruments, a light and camera into several smaller incisions in the abdomen. 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. 

Robotic surgery
A robotic salpingo-oophorectomy is a similar procedure to a laparoscopic salpingo-oophorectomy. During a robotic salpingo-oophorectomy, a robotic arm, operated by an experienced Mercy Health gynecological surgeon, will be used to locate and remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Recovery from salpingo-oophorectomy

The recovery period after a salpingo-oophorectomy depends on the type of procedure you are having. If you are having a laparoscopic or robotic salpingo-oophorectomy, your procedure may be performed on an outpatient basis and you can go home that night. Some patients with a laparoscopic or robotic salpingo-oophorectomy will need an overnight hospital stay. Your Mercy Health surgeon will determine what is best for you. It can take approximately three weeks to return to your normal activity level after a laparoscopic or robotic salpingo-oophorectomy.

If you are having an open salpingo-oophorectomy, you may need to recover in the hospital for a few days after the surgery. It can take up to eight weeks to return to your normal activity level after an open-salpingo-oophorectomy.

During the discharge process, your doctor will give you detailed 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 most likely need 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 should walk around to avoid the formation of blood clots. You should not lift anything heavy or engage in any hard exercise for a few weeks following your procedure. 
  • Follow-up appointment schedule
  • Your doctor will give you instructions on when you can resume sexual activity.

Call your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling at the incision site
  • Fever
  • Increase in drainage or opening of the wound site
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Difficulty having a bowel movement or urinating
  • Signs of a heart attack including shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, fatigue, nausea or vomiting 

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