An oophorectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one or both of your ovaries. Your ovaries are almond-shaped organs that sit on each side of the uterus in your pelvis. Your ovaries contain eggs and produce hormones that control your menstrual cycle.
When an oophorectomy involves removing both ovaries, it's called bilateral oophorectomy. When the surgery involves removing only one ovary, it's called unilateral oophorectomy.
During oophorectomy surgery you'll receive anesthetics to put you in a sleep-like state. You won't be awake during the procedure. An oophorectomy can be performed two ways:
Laparotomy: In this surgical approach, the surgeon makes one long incision in your lower abdomen to access your ovaries. The surgeon separates each ovary from the blood supply and tissue that surrounds it and removes the ovary.
Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery: In this surgical approach, the surgeon makes three or four very small incisions in your abdomen.
The surgeon inserts a tube with a tiny camera through one incision and special surgical tools through the others. The camera transmits video to a monitor in the operating room that the surgeon uses to guide the surgical tools. Each ovary is separated from the blood supply and surrounding tissue and placed in a pouch. The pouch is pulled out of your abdomen through one of the small incisions. Laparoscopic oophorectomy may also be robotically assisted in certain cases. During robotic surgery, the surgeon watches a 3-D monitor and uses hand controls that allow finer movement of the surgical tools.
Whether your oophorectomy is an open, laparoscopic or robotic procedure depends on your situation. Laparoscopic or robotic oophorectomy usually offers quicker recovery, less pain and a shorter hospital stay. But these procedures aren't appropriate for everyone, and in some cases, surgery that begins as laparoscopic may need to be converted to an open procedure during the operation.