A systematic review and meta-analysis on fetal ovarian cysts: impact of size, appearance and prenatal aspiration

Prenat Diagn. 2017 Oct;37(10):951-958. doi: 10.1002/pd.5143.


Objective: The objective of the study is to compare outcomes of ultrasound-guided aspiration of fetal ovarian cysts with conservative management.

Method: A systematic review of MEDLINE and Web of Science included studies reporting outcomes (prenatal and postnatal torsion, spontaneous resolution and surgery) of fetuses with ovarian cysts. Subgroup analysis was performed according to cyst diameter at diagnosis and cysts ≥40 mm.

Results: Ninety-two non-randomised studies reported on 380 cysts (324 observed and 56 aspirated in utero) in 365 fetuses. All studies were case reports or series with high heterogeneity and risk of bias. The overall spontaneous resolution rate of conservatively managed cysts was 46%, yet decreased with increasing cyst size. Risk of prenatal ovarian torsion in conservatively managed cases depended on cyst size and was particularly important in the range 30 to 59 mm (15-34%). The rate of prenatal torsion in simple cysts ≥40 mm was lower in aspirated than conservatively managed cysts (0% vs 10%, p = 0.03). Aspirated cysts had lower rates of postnatal surgery (7%) compared with conservatively managed cysts (49%, p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Cysts 30 to 59 mm were at highest risk of torsion. Simple cysts >40 mm had lower rates of torsion when aspirated prenatally. Randomised studies and safety data are needed prior to routine prenatal ovarian cyst aspiration. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Cysts / embryology*
  • Ovarian Cysts / pathology
  • Ovarian Cysts / surgery
  • Ovarian Diseases / embryology
  • Ovarian Diseases / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Suction* / adverse effects
  • Torsion Abnormality / diagnosis
  • Torsion Abnormality / embryology
  • Torsion Abnormality / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal