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Ovarian transposition before pelvic radiation

Togas Tulandi, MD, MHCM
Section Editor
Tommaso Falcone, MD, FRCSC, FACOG
Deputy Editor
Sandy J Falk, MD, FACOG


Oocytes are uniquely sensitive to radiation injury. A mathematical model predicted 16 gray (Gy) of radiation would deplete the ovarian oocyte pool at age 20 years and 10 Gy of radiation would deplete the ovarian oocyte pool at age 45 years [1]. One method of protecting the ovaries from radiation injury is to transpose them out of the radiation field (ie, ovarian transposition, also known as ovarian suspension, oophoropexy, or ovariopexy) [2-4]. The vascular pedicle remains intact in ovarian transposition, which distinguishes this procedure from ovarian transplantation.

Historically, the ovaries were relocated medially by suturing them to the posterior uterus, and protected during radiation therapy with a lead shield placed centrally on the abdomen [5]. However, medially placed ovaries still absorb radiation from scatter and some transmission through the shield, reducing the efficacy of the procedure [6-8]. In one report of medial ovarian transposition by positioning the ovaries behind the uterus in 11 girls with Hodgkin lymphoma, the authors reported 14 pregnancies approximately 15 years later [9]. Contemporary procedures transpose the ovaries above the pelvic brim and as lateral as possible, which minimizes the ovarian dose of radiation and improves efficacy compared with medial approaches. Various lateral locations have been used, including the base of the round ligament [10], the level of lower kidney pole [11], and the paracolic gutters [12-14].

Related topics are discussed in detail separately, including:

Pelvic radiation and toxicity (See "Treatment-related toxicity from the use of radiation therapy for gynecologic malignancies".)

Ovarian failure following radiation therapy (See "Ovarian failure due to anticancer drugs and radiation".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 15, 2017.
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