Imaging in gynecological disease (1): ultrasound features of metastases in the ovaries differ depending on the origin of the primary tumor

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2007 May;29(5):505-11. doi: 10.1002/uog.4020.


Objective: To describe the gray-scale and color Doppler ultrasound findings of metastatic tumors in the ovary according to the origin of the primary tumor.

Methods: Information was retrieved retrospectively from 67 patients who had undergone preoperative transvaginal gray-scale and color Doppler ultrasound examination and who were found subsequently to have metastatic tumors in their ovaries. In all women the ultrasound information had been collected prospectively using a standardized examination technique and predefined definitions of ultrasound characteristics. Stored ultrasound images were used only to describe retrospectively the external surface of the metastatic tumors. Information on presenting symptoms and on whether the patient had been treated for a malignancy in the past was retrieved retrospectively from patient records.

Results: Most (95%) ovarian metastases were solid, multilocular-solid or multilocular. Almost all (38/41, 93%) metastases that derived from the stomach, breast, lymphoma or uterus were solid, while most (16/22, 73%) metastases deriving from the colon, rectum, appendix or biliary tract were multilocular or multilocular-solid (P<0.0001). Metastases that derived from the colon, rectum, appendix or biliary tract were larger compared with those from the stomach, breast, lymphoma or uterus (median maximum diameter, 122 (range, 16-200) mm vs. 71 (range, 27-170) mm, P=0.02). In addition, irregular external borders were more common (19/22 (86%) vs. 19/41 (46%), P=0.002), as were papillary projections (6/22 (27%) vs. 2/41 (5%), P=0.011). They also appeared to be less vascularized, with 64% (14/22) manifesting moderate-to-abundant vascularization at color Doppler examination in comparison to 88% (36/41) of the ovarian metastases from stomach, breast, lymphoma or uterus (P=0.024).

Conclusion: Ovarian metastases derived from lymphoma or from tumors in the stomach, breast and uterus are solid in almost all cases, whereas those derived from the colon, rectum or biliary tract manifest more heterogeneous morphological patterns, most being multicystic with irregular borders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Ovary / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ovary / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color / methods