Master Class

The ovarian remnant syndrome


A 45-year old woman was referred by her physician to my clinic for continued pain after total hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. The patient initially had undergone a robot-assisted total laparoscopic hysterectomy, bilateral salpingectomy, and excision of stage 1 endometriosis secondary to pelvic pain. Because of continued pain and new onset of persistent ovarian cysts, she once again underwent robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery, this time to remove both ovaries. Interestingly, severe periadnexal adhesions were noted in the second surgical report. A hemorrhagic cyst and a corpus luteal cyst were noted. Unfortunately, the patient continued to have left lower abdominal pain; thus, the referral to my clinic.

Dr. Charles E. Miller, a minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon in Naperville, Ill., and a past president of the AAGL.

Dr. Charles E. Miller

Given the history of pelvic pain, especially in light of severe periadnexal adhesions at the second surgery, I voiced my concern about possible ovarian remnant syndrome. At the patient’s initial visit, an estradiol (E2), progesterone (P4) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test were ordered. Interestingly, while the E2 and P4 were quite low, the FSH was 10.9 IU/mL. Certainly, this was not consistent with menopause but could point to ovarian remnant syndrome.

A follow-up examination and ultrasound revealed a 15-mm exquisitely tender left adnexal mass, again consistent with ovarian remnant syndrome. My plan now is to proceed with surgery with the presumptive diagnosis of ovarian remnant syndrome.

Ovarian remnant syndrome (ORS), first described by Shemwell and Weed in 1970, is defined as a pelvic mass with residual ovarian tissue postoophorectomy.1-3 ORS may be associated with endometriosis or ovarian cancer. Remnant ovarian tissue also may stimulate endometriosis and cyclic pelvic pain, similar to symptoms of the remnant itself.4

ORS is caused by surgical factors that limit surgical exposure or compromise surgical technique. Pelvic adhesions may be secondary to previous surgery, intraoperative bleeding, previous appendectomy, inflammatory bowel disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, or endometriosis, the latter of which is the most common cause of initial oophorectomy. Moreover, surgical technique may be causal. This includes inability to achieve adequate exposure, inability to restore normal anatomy, and imprecise site of surgical incision.5-7

For this edition of the Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery, I have enlisted the assistance of Ryan S. Kooperman, DO, who recently completed his 2-year American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) Fellowship in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., where I am currently the program director.

In 2016, Dr. Kooperman was the recipient of the National Outstanding Resident of the Year in Obstetrics and Gynecology (American Osteopathic Foundation/Medical Education Foundation of the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Dr. Kooperman is a very skilled surgeon and adroit clinician. He will be starting practice at Highland Park (Ill.) North Shore Hospital System in August 2019. It is a pleasure to welcome Dr. Kooperman to this edition of the Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery.

Dr. Miller is a clinical associate professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago and past president of the AAGL. He is a reproductive endocrinologist and minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon in metropolitan Chicago and the director of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. He has no disclosures relevant to this Master Class.


1. Obstet Gynecol. 1970 Aug;36(2):299-303.

2. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1989 Nov;29(4):433-5.

3. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Aug;24(4):210-4.

4. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1988 Feb;26(1):93-103.

5. Oncol Lett. 2014 Jul;8(1):3-6.

6. J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2011 Mar-Apr;18(2):194-9.

7. Fertil Steril. 2007 May;87(5):1005-9.

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