From the Journals

Oophorectomies continue to dominate torsion treatment



Use of oophorectomy for adnexal torsion has remained at approximately 70% despite guidelines advising ovarian conservation, based on data from more than 1,700 individuals.

Prompt surgical management is essential in cases of ovarian torsion in order to salvage ovarian function, and recent studies have shown that conservative management with detorsion does not increase postoperative complications, compared with oophorectomy, wrote Hannah Ryles, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and colleagues.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued practice guidelines in November 2016 that recommended ovarian conservation rather than oophorectomy to manage adnexal torsion in women wishing to preserve fertility. However, the impact of this guideline on clinical practice and surgical patterns remains unclear, the researchers said.

In a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, the researchers reviewed data from 402 patients who underwent surgeries before the updated ACOG guidelines (2008-2016) and 1,389 who underwent surgeries after the guidelines (2017-2020). Surgery data came from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database. The study population included women aged 18-50 years who underwent adnexal torsion surgery and were identified as having either oophorectomy or ovarian conservation surgery.

A total of 1,791 surgeries performed for adnexal torsion were included in the study; 542 (30.3%) involved ovarian conservation and 1,249 (69.7%) involved oophorectomy.

The proportion of oophorectomies was similar during the periods before and after the guidelines (71.9% vs. 69.1%; P = .16). However, the proportion of oophorectomies changed significantly across the entire study period, by approximately –1.6% each year.

Factors significantly associated with oophorectomy compared with ovarian conservation included older age (35 years vs. 28 years), higher body mass index (29.2 kg/m2 vs. 27.5 kg/m2), anemia (12.2% vs. 7.2%), hypertension (10.4% vs. 3.1%), and higher American Society of Anesthesiologists classification.

“There remains no defined acceptable rate of oophorectomy; this decision involves multiple factors, such as fertility and other patient desires after a risk and benefit discussion, menopausal status, concern for malignancy, and safety and feasibility of conservative procedures,” the researchers wrote in their discussion. However, in emergency situations, it may be difficult to determine a patient’s preferences, and a lack of desire for future fertility may be presumed, which may contribute to the relatively high oophorectomy rates over time, they said.

The findings were limited by several factors including the retrospective design and lack of data on surgical history, histopathology, and intraoperative appearance of the ovary, as well as lack of clinical data including the time from presentation to diagnosis or surgery, the researchers noted. “Although we were also unable to determine obstetric history and fertility desires, our median age of 32 years reflects a young cohort that was limited to women of reproductive age,” they added.

However, the results reflect studies suggesting that clinical practice often lags behind updated guidelines, and the findings were strengthened by the use of the NSQIP database and reflect a need for greater efforts to promote ovarian conservation in accordance with the current guidelines, the researchers concluded.

Consider unilateral oophorectomy

The current study highlights the discrepancy between the ACOG guidelines and clinical practice, with “disappointingly low” rates of ovarian preservation in the adult population, wrote Riley J. Young, MD, and Kimberly A. Kho, MD, both of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, in an accompanying editorial. The reasons for the discrepancy include clinical concerns for conserving a torsed ovary and the difficulty of assessing fertility desires in an emergency situation, they said.

However, consideration of unilateral oophorectomy as an option should be part of clinical decision-making, according to the editorialists. Previous studies suggest that retention of a single ovarian may still allow for a successful pregnancy, and the effects of unilateral oophorectomy have been studied in infertility and assisted reproductive technology settings.

Women with a single ovary have fewer eggs and require higher amounts of gonadotropins, but pregnancy is possible, the editorialists said. However, the long-term effects of unilateral oophorectomy are uncertain, and potential detrimental outcomes include increased mortality and cognitive impairment; therefore “we aim for premenopausal ovaries simply to be conserved, whether fertility is the stated goal or not,” they noted. This may include consideration of unilateral oophorectomy. “Each ovary conserved at midnight moves us closer to a more acceptable ovarian conservation rate,” they concluded.

The study received no outside funding. The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose. Dr. Kho disclosed funding to her institution from Hologic for being on an investigator-initiated study, Dr. Young had no financial conflicts to disclose.

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