Ovary and Fallopian Tube Removal

Ovary & fallopian tube removal at a glance

  • Ovary and fallopian tube removal involves the surgical extraction of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, sometimes due to the presence of ovarian mass or cancer.
  • Variations of the surgery can involve removal of just one ovary or just one fallopian tube, one ovary and one tube, or both ovaries and both fallopian tubes.
  • An oophorectomy removes one or both of the ovaries and a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy removes both the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Women with the BRCA genetic mutation may preemptively have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to prevent possibly developing ovarian cancer.

What is ovary & fallopian removal?

Ovary and fallopian tube removal involves the surgical removal of one or both ovaries and one or both fallopian tubes, which is generally done when ovarian cancer is present. The ovaries are the small organs on each side of the uterus that contain eggs and produce female hormones. The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus, where the fertilized embryo implants for pregnancy.

Ovary and fallopian tube removal procedures are performed either with a large open incision in the abdomen to access the ovaries or laparoscopically, which is a minimally invasive surgery that involves three to four small incisions on the abdomen. During a laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon uses a small tube with a camera attached to enter into the incision areas to extract the ovaries.

Why remove ovaries & fallopian tubes?

Women with ovarian cancer may have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as part of a cancer treatment. Originally, experts believed that ovarian cancer always originated in the tissues of the ovary. New research, however, has suggested that some ovarian cancers may actually start in the fallopian tube, which has prompted some patients to only have their fallopian tubes removed. 

Types of ovary & fallopian tube removal

  • An oophorectomy includes removal of one or both ovaries and may be performed at the same time as a hysterectomy
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy procedure removes both sets of ovaries and fallopian tubes. A unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy removes one of the ovaries and the connected fallopian tube.
  • Prophylactic ovary removals extract healthy, noncancerous ovaries in women who have elevated risk (BRCA genetic mutation) of ovarian and fallopian tube cancer. Typically, these types of procedures are performed after a woman is done having children.
  • An interval salpingectomy surgically removes the fallopian tubes and leaves the ovaries in until after natural menopause.

Ovary & fallopian tube removal side effects & risks

Oophorectomy and other related procedures are generally safe surgical procedures, in that they carry few risks such as infection, bleeding, blood loss, blood clotting and damage to nearby organs. In rare cases the procedure may cause scarring or small bowel obstruction.

Women who have not gone through menopause but have both of their ovaries removed will experience a premature menopause and may have symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased sex drive, heart disease, depression or anxiety. Women of childbearing age who undergo a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy will not be able to conceive.