Screening for benign ovarian cysts can occur during a pelvic exam, during which the vagina, uterus, rectum and pelvis—including the ovaries—are examined for masses or growths. Ovarian cysts may also be diagnosed during an ultrasound, although an ultrasound may not be able to distinguish between a cancerous and noncancerous mass. If your nurse or doctor spots a suspected ovarian cyst, he or she may have you back for another such test in six weeks to ensure that it has gone away. A blood test to measure hormone levels or to test for pregnancy may also be conducted.
A vaginal sonogram, in which a small instrument is inserted into the vagina that bounces sound waves off the uterus, fallopian tubes of ovaries to form a picture, can allow your doctor to get the most accurate image of the ovary and any cysts you may have, including not just the cyst’s size, but also whether it is fluid-filled or solid. However, sonograms cannot determine whether the cysts are malignant or benign, so a biopsy may be ordered.
Laparoscopy, meanwhile, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a laparoscope, a thin, lighted telescope, is inserted through a small incision into the abdomen, and can allow your physician to view and remove any ovarian cysts.
Other imaging tests for ovarian cysts may include a CT scan, PET scan or MRI.