CT of epithelial ovarian tumors

Radiographics. 1999 Oct:19 Spec No:S85-102; quiz S263-4. doi: 10.1148/radiographics.19.suppl_1.g99oc10s85.


Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecologic malignancy in the United States and causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. Approximately two-thirds of patients have tumors that have spread beyond the pelvis at the time of diagnosis. Ovarian tumors arise from the surface epithelium or mesothelium, germ cells, or the gonadal stroma. Epithelial ovarian tumors include serous, mucinous, endometrioid, clear cell, and undifferentiated tumors. In general, the likelihood of malignancy increases with increasing solid-tissue elements and thicker septa. Surgery is central to the management of ovarian cancer. At the initial exploratory laparotomy, surgicopathologic staging and debulking of the tumor are undertaken. Patients with advanced cancer frequently undergo second-look surgery after chemotherapy to detect any residual disease. CT can provide staging information for preoperative planning and determination of surgical resectability, demonstrate tumor response to therapy, and allow detection of persistent or recurrent disease. However, a major limitation of CT is the lack of sensitivity for detection of small tumor implants, especially on the small intestine or mesentery. Dedicated CT of the pelvis is best performed with spiral CT. Ovarian carcinoma can spread by means of intraperitoneal implantation, lymphatic invasion, and hematogenous dissemination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / diagnostic imaging
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pelvis / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*