Bartholin gland masses: Diagnosis and management
- Katherine T Chen, MD, MPH
Katherine T Chen, MD, MPH
- Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science
- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Section Editors
- Robert L Barbieri, MD
Robert L Barbieri, MD
- Editor-in-Chief — Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health
- Section Editor — General Gynecology and Female Reproductive Endocrinology
- Kate Macy Ladd Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
- Harvard Medical School
- Barbara Goff, MD
Barbara Goff, MD
- Section Editor — Gynecologic Oncology
- Department Chair, Gynecologic Oncology
- University of Washington Medical Center
The Bartholin glands (also called the greater vestibular glands) are located in the vulva (figure 1), and blockage of the Bartholin ducts is a common etiology of a vulvar mass. The most common Bartholin masses are cysts or abscesses; Bartholin benign tumors and carcinomas are rare. Symptomatic Bartholin cysts and abscesses account for 2 percent of all gynecologic visits per year .
This topic will focus on cysts and abscesses, but will also provide brief information on Bartholin benign tumors and carcinomas. Vulvar abscess, vulvar lesions, and vulvar cancer are discussed in detail separately. (See "Vulvar abscess" and "Vulvar lesions: Differential diagnosis based on morphology" and "Vulvar cancer: Epidemiology, diagnosis, histopathology, and treatment of rare histologies".)
BARTHOLIN GLAND ANATOMY
The Bartholin glands (also called the greater vestibular glands (figure 2)) are the female homologue of the bulbourethral glands in the male. The Bartholin gland's main function is to secrete mucus to provide vaginal and vulvar lubrication .
Each Bartholin gland is approximately 0.5 cm in size and drains tiny drops of mucous into a duct 2.5 cm long. The glands are deep to the posterior aspects of the labia majora. The ducts open onto the vulvar vestibule at the four and eight o'clock positions on each side of the vaginal orifice, just below the hymenal ring (figure 1).
The Bartholin gland is composed of several epithelial types: The body is mucinous acini, the duct is predominantly transitional epithelium, and the orifice is squamous epithelium .To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:
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- BARTHOLIN GLAND ANATOMY
- TYPES OF BARTHOLIN GLAND MASSES
- Epidemiology and risk factors
- Bartholin cyst
- Bartholin abscess
- - Microbiology
- Bartholin benign tumor
- Bartholin gland carcinoma
- CLINICAL PRESENTATION
- Physical examination
- Abscess cultures
- DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS
- - Overview
- - Incision and drainage
- Choosing a procedure
- Incision and drainage
- Word catheter
- Other procedures
- - Gland excision
- - Role of antibiotics
- Antibiotic regimens
- - Recurrent abscess
- SPECIAL CLINICAL CONSIDERATIONS
- Pregnant women
- Immunocompromised women
- BARTHOLIN GLAND CARCINOMA
- Clinical manifestations
- Evaluation and diagnosis
- SOCIETY GUIDELINE LINKS
- INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS