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Evaluation and management of ruptured ovarian cyst

Howard T Sharp, MD
Section Editor
Deborah Levine, MD
Deputy Editor
Sandy J Falk, MD, FACOG


Rupture of an ovarian cyst is a common occurrence in women of reproductive age [1]. Physiologic cysts, such as a follicular cyst or corpus luteal cyst, or pathologic cysts may rupture (endometriomas, cystic components of benign or malignant neoplasms). In the normal menstrual cycle, the physiologic rupture of small follicular cysts that occurs with every ovulatory cycle is not typically clinically significant. This cyclic event is generally asymptomatic or associated with mild mid-cycle pain (also referred to as mittelschmerz).

Ovarian cyst rupture results in release of cyst fluid or blood that may irritate the peritoneal cavity. Dermoid cysts contain sebaceous fluid, hair, fat, bone, or cartilage, and rupture of these cysts results in severe peritoneal irritation. Surgical management is usually required for rupture of a dermoid cyst.

Most women with a ruptured ovarian cyst may be managed with observation, analgesics, and rest, but some women require surgery. Decisions regarding management are based upon patient characteristics, including the severity of symptoms, presence or ongoing bleeding and/hemodynamic instability, and the presumptive histologic diagnosis.

Diagnosis and management of women with a ruptured ovarian cyst are reviewed here. The diagnosis and management of adnexal masses that are not ruptured is discussed separately. (See "Approach to the patient with an adnexal mass" and "Differential diagnosis of the adnexal mass" and "Ultrasound differentiation of benign versus malignant adnexal masses".)


The incidence of ruptured ovarian cysts is uncertain.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 20, 2016.
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