Ovarian cysts are usually a low-risk problem which can resolve on its own. At times, however, cysts can turn cancerous or otherwise cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s life, health, and reproductive system. As such, physicians often fail to diagnose ovarian cysts promptly, and often fail to treat the problem promptly even when diagnosed. This failure to diagnose ovarian cysts is often a form of medical malpractice.
Ovarian cysts, like all cysts, are fluid-filled sacs present within the body. As suggested by their name, ovarian cysts are those that form in or on a woman’s ovaries.
Most ovarian cysts are what is known as functional cysts. Functional cysts frequently arise during a woman’s menstrual cycle. These cysts can be follicle cysts, which form when a woman’s sac does not break open to release an egg, but instead continues to grow. Follicle cysts generally resolve on their own within 1 to 3 months. Another type of functional cyst is the corpus luteum cyst, which form if the sac does not dissolve, but reseals after the egg is released with fluid forming inside. Corpus luteum cysts can resolve on their own after a few weeks, or can grow to up to 4 inches long, twisting the ovary and causing intense pain.
Several other types of ovarian cysts can be present, as well. One is endometriomas, unique to women with endometriosis. These cysts form when tissue which mimcs uterean lining grown outside the uterus, often attaching to the ovaries. Cystadenomas, similarly, form from cells on the outside of the ovary. Dermoid cysts likewise form on the outside of the ovaries, but can be filled with (in addition to fluid) hair, teeth, and other unusual tissues. Finally, some women have polycystic ovaries, wherin eggs mature but the sacs repeatedly are not released, resulting in many cysts inside the ovaries.
Some ovarian cysts cause no symptoms. Others, however, can cause symptoms including:
- Abdominal pressure, swelling, or pain
- Pelvic pain
- Mild pain in the lower back and thighs
- Problems passing urine completely
- Pain during sex
- Weight gain
- Pain during the patient’s period
- Abnormal bleeding
- Nausea or vomiting
- Breast tenderness
An ovarian cyst in generally diagnosed using a pelvic exam. An ultrasound is then generally used to determine the cyst’s type, shape, and size. A proper medical follow-up also includes a blood test to ensure that the cyst is not cancerous. Treatments can include observation, medication such as hormone treatment (birth control pills), or surgery to remove the cyst or cysts.
Many physicians, however, even when they do diagnose ovarian cysts, simply tell patients that the problem will go away on its own, without performing proper tests to ensure that the condition is benign. This practice can be medical malpractice. This is because cancerous cysts, although rare, if left alone do not resolve, but develop into an advanced and life-threatening disease. Even benign cysts, if left undiagnosed and untreated, can rupture, and can cause damage to ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the uterus.
If you or a loved one was injured, or subjected to late-stage cancer, due to an undiagnosed ovarian cyst, talk to a top medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Illinois, like many other states, has strict deadlines by which you must take action to preserve your rights. Your attorney can advise you as to whether you might have a legal claim, and help you to seek justice for your injuries.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.