Frequency and type of adnexal lesions in autopsy material from postmenopausal women: ultrasound study with histological correlation

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Sep;22(3):284-9. doi: 10.1002/uog.212.


Objective: To determine the prevalence and histology of adnexal cysts in autopsy material from postmenopausal women.

Methods: The study included 104 adnexa from 52 consecutive women with a mean age of 79 (range, 64-96) years, who underwent autopsy and died from causes other than gynecological cancer or intraperitoneal cancer of extragenital origin. The adnexa were removed, put in sterile saline in separate plastic containers and examined sonographically using an 8-MHz transvaginal transducer. Each lesion detected at ultrasound examination was measured with calipers on the frozen ultrasound image and was classified according to its ultrasound morphology. The adnexa were then put in 4% formaldehyde solution and sent for histological examination.

Results: At ultrasound examination, 56% (29/52) of the women had adnexal lesions, cysts being detected in 54% (28/52) and solid lesions in 12% (6/52). At least one adnexal cyst with a largest diameter of 2-10 mm, > 10 mm, > 20 mm, > 30 mm and > 40 mm, respectively, was found in 33% (17/52), 21% (11/52), 12% (6/52), 8% (4/52) and 4% (2/52) of the women. The largest lesion measured 65 mm in diameter. At ultrasound examination we found 36 intra-ovarian cysts (26 inclusion cysts, three cystically degenerated corpora albicantia, five simple cysts, one serous cystadenoma and one 3-mm cyst not confirmed by the pathologist), 19 extra-ovarian cysts (all simple cysts according to the pathologist), five solid intra-ovarian lesions (two fibromas, one cystadenofibroma, one Brenner tumor and one case of dystrophic calcification), and one solid extra-ovarian lesion (fibroma). In addition, the pathologist detected one 20-mm solid corpus albicans, eight extra-ovarian simple cysts of 1-8 mm, and 77 intra-ovarian inclusion cysts of 1-4 mm.

Conclusion: Small (< or = 50 mm) benign adnexal cysts and small benign solid tumors are so common in postmenopausal women that their presence may be regarded as normal. Our results support conservative management of adnexal lesions with benign ultrasound morphology incidentally detected at ultrasound examination in postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adnexal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adnexal Diseases / pathology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autopsy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Cysts / diagnostic imaging
  • Ovarian Cysts / pathology
  • Postmenopause*
  • Ultrasonography