The ovary is an organ of the female reproductive system. Every woman has two ovaries (right and left) located in the lower abdomen, on either side of your womb (uterus). The ovaries produce hormones for developing the female organs and as well releases an egg once monthly.

Ovarian torsion still known as adnexal torsion occurs when an ovary becomes twisted around the tissues that provide support for it. It’s possible sometimes that the fallopian tube becomes twisted and this painful condition cuts off blood supply to these organs. Its worthy to note that this condition is a medical emergency that needs to be treated quickly. If this is not done, it can result in loss of an ovary.

In ovarian torsion, the ovary twists around its stalk. The blood vessels to the ovary are located in this stalk and what the twisting does is to cut off the blood supply to the ovary, causing organ death. This condition is regarded as the fifth most common emergency of the female reproductive organs.

Physicians agree that ovarian torsion is an uncommon diagnosis but you are at risk of having ovarian torsion if you have ovarian cysts, that causes the ovary to swell.


What are the symptoms?

The symptoms may present suddenly without warning and basically, this condition never occurs without pain. You can also experience the following if you have ovarian torsion

  • Fever
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe, sudden pain in the lower abdomen
  • A pelvic mass
  • Abdominal bleeding


What causes this condition?

Ovarian torsion can occur following a cyst or an ovarian mass. You are more likely to develop ovarian torsion if you

  • Are pregnant
  • Have had a tubal ligation
  • Have a long ovarian ligament
  • Have polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Undergoing hormonal treatments for infertility


How can you diagnose ovarian torsion?

It’s important you see immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of ovarian torsion to prevent further complications. Diagnosis is based on a detailed medical history. Your physician will perform a pelvic examination to locate painful areas and any form of tenderness. You can have urine analysis and blood tests to exclude urinary tract infection and other potential diagnoses.


What are the differential diagnoses?

  • Ovarian cyst
  • Tubo-ovarian abscess
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Appendicitis
  • Kidney stone


What are the treatment options?

  • Over the counter pain relievers to ease pain symptoms such as Tylenol, naproxen, and ibuprofen. If your pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe opioids.
  • Use of high-dose birth control pills or other forms of hormonal birth control to reduce the risk of re-occurrence.
  • Surgical procedures to untwist the ovary and fallopian tube, if involved. The surgical procedures include
    • Laparoscopy where your doctor will insert a lighted instrument into your lower abdomen after an incision. This will enable the view of your internal organs, access your ovary and untwist it.
    • Laparotomy. This procedure allows a larger incision in your lower abdomen to untwist the ovary manually and it is done under a general anesthesia.


What are the complications?

  • Ovarian necrosis (death of ovarian tissue)
  • Ovarian necrosis
  • Infections