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Ovarian torsion, or the twisting of an ovary, can occur when an ovary becomes twisted on its ligamentous supports. This can be due to several things but typically it’s because of a disease or developmental abnormality. The torsion blocks blood from flowing through the blood vessels that supply and nourish the ovaries. FreeMD.com says ovarian torsion is a rare cause of severe lower abdominal pain.
UpToDate.com reports ovarian torsion is the fifth most common gynecologic emergency. Unfortunately diagnosis can be challenging and/or delayed because the symptoms are relatively nonspecific and can be due to other medical conditions.
FreeDictionary.com’s Medical Dictionary says the characteristic symptom of ovarian torsion is the sudden onset of severe lower abdominal pain that radiates to the back, side and thigh. FreeMD.com says typically the pain usually begins after exercise.
Medical Dictionary goes on to say nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation can accompany the pain. Women may also experience tenderness in the lower abdominal area, mild fever, dizziness and altered heartbeat.
FreeMD.com says ovarian torsion can happen at any age, but most cases occur in women under age 30. Medscape.com lists two groups of women who show a particular tendency to be affected by ovarian torsion. These are women in their mid-20s and those who are post-menopausal.
According to FreeMD.com, conditions that can trigger ovarian torsion include anatomic abnormalities of the ovary or fallopian tube; pregnancy (particularly during the first three months); taking medications to induce ovulation; and history of pelvic surgery. Medical Dictionary adds ovarian cysts or fibromas, tumor of the ovary or tubes, and trauma to either the ovaries or the tubes can also cause ovarian torsion.
The prognosis of ovarian torsion is excellent with early diagnosis and proper treatment according to Medscape.com. Medical Dictionary says however, if diagnosis is delayed, the torsions can worsen and cut off arterial blood flow into and venous blood flow out of the ovary. This results in death of the ovarian tissue.