How To Set Up A Home Sleep Study

A sleep study is a non-invasive, overnight exam that allows doctors to monitor you while you sleep to see what’s happening in your brain and body. Overnight sleep studies are typically thought of as taking place in a hospital or sleep clinic laboratory setting.

However, a few years ago, new technologies made it possible for sleep studies to take place in patients’ homes.

What is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study may involve the following: Polysomnogram (PSG) – a diagnostic test which monitors brain activity, breathing and leg movements which helps to evaluate sleep apnea (obstruction of air flow) or a condition known as periodic leg movements of sleep. Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – a daytime sleep study which evaluates how fast a person falls asleep.

Should You Get a Sleep Study?

The National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates that millions of Americans are needlessly suffering from undiagnosed or misdiagnosed sleep disorders. Left untreated, sleep disorders can lead to increased health risks and an overall lower quality of life.

To determine whether you might benefit from a sleep evaluationask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you regularly have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep?
  • Do you have a problem with snoring? Has anyone ever told you that you have pauses in breathing or that you gasp for breath when you sleep?
  • Are your legs “active” at night? Do you experience tingling, creeping, itching, pulling, aching or other strange feelings in your legs while sitting or lying down that cause a strong urge to move, walk or kick your legs for relief?
  • Are you so tired when you wake up in the morning that you cannot function normally during the day?
  • Does sleepiness and fatigue persist for more than two to three weeks?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a complete sleep evaluation should be considered.

Finally…

The Sleep Disorders Center at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is a comprehensive clinic supervised by a physician board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and is a Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Our sleep professionals are dedicated to providing the highest quality of sleep for our patients. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule and appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Sleep Foundation).

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A Simple Guide To Echocardiograms

Echocardiograms use ultrasound to evaluate heart and circulatory function.  This non-invasive procedure gives your physician real-time images of the heart in motion.  These real-time images enable your physician to accurately diagnose a wide range of cardiac abnormalities and initiate appropriate treatment.

Why It’s Done

Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram if he or she suspects problems with the valves or chambers of your heart or if heart problems are the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain. An echocardiogram can also be used to detect congenital heart defects in unborn babies (fetal echocardiogram).

Types of Echocardiograms

Depending on what information your doctor needs, you may have one of several types of echocardiograms. Each type of echocardiogram has few if any, risks involved. You may have one of the following kinds of echocardiograms:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram. This is a standard, noninvasive echocardiogram. A technician (sonographer) spreads gel on your chest and then presses a device known as a transducer firmly against your skin, aiming an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart. The transducer records the sound wave echoes from your heart. A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor.

    If your lungs or ribs block the view, you may need a small amount of liquid (contrast agent) injected through an intravenous line (IV) that will make your heart’s structures show up more clearly on a monitor, improving the images.

  • Transesophageal echocardiogram. If it’s difficult to get a clear picture of your heart with a standard echocardiogram or if there is a reason to see the heart and valves in more detail, your doctor may recommend a transesophageal echocardiogram.

    In this procedure, a flexible tube containing a transducer is guided down your throat and into your esophagus, which connects your mouth to your stomach. From there, the transducer can be positioned to obtain more-detailed images of your heart. Your throat will be numbed, and you’ll have medications to help you relax during a transesophageal echocardiogram.

  • Doppler echocardiogram. When sound waves bounce off blood cells moving through your heart and blood vessels, they change pitch. These changes (Doppler signals) can help your doctor measure the speed and direction of the blood flow in your heart.

    Doppler techniques are used in most transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiograms, and they can be used to check blood flow problems and blood pressures in the arteries of your heart that traditional ultrasound might not detect. Sometimes the blood flow shown on the monitor is colorized to help your doctor pinpoint any problems.

  • Stress echocardiogram. Some heart problems — particularly those involving the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle — occur only during physical activity.

    For a stress echocardiogram, ultrasound images of your heart are taken before and immediately after walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. If you’re unable to exercise, you may get an injection of a medication to make your heart pump as hard as if you were exercising.

Finally…

 

If you get an “echo” test, you don’t have to stay in the hospital. It’s not surgery and doesn’t hurt. For more information about your heart health, or about becoming a patient at ADC, visit our website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube Channel.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).

What You Can Expect When Getting a Colonoscopy

During a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube (colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows the doctor to view the inside of the entire colon. If necessary, polyps or other types of abnormal tissue can be removed through the scope during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken during a colonoscopy as well.


Why Is It Important? 

This procedure may help find polyps, colon disease, ulcers, areas of inflammation or bleeding and causes of diarrhea. A colonoscopy is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and/or rectum.
*According to the American Cancer Society, one of the most powerful weapons in preventing colorectal cancer is through colorectal screening or testing. People who have no identified risk factors (other than age) should begin regular screening for colon and rectal cancer at the age of 50. Those who have a family history or other risk factors for colorectal polyps or cancer need to talk with their doctor about starting screening at a younger age and more frequent intervals.

WHAT INDICATORS DO I NEED TO CONSIDER?

WHAT DISEASES OR ILLNESSES CAN BE FOUND?

  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Abdominal pain
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Colitis
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Diverticulosis


What Is a Colonoscope? 

A colonoscope is a thin flexible instrument used to visualize the inside of your rectum and colon. It can be used to collect a biopsy (small growths and tissue samples) and contains a small camera with a light on the end to videotape and capture images.

How Do I Prepare?


You will be required to take a prep to clean the bowels prior to the procedure. Your physician or nurse will give you instructions on the type of prep you are to take. The prep will cause you to have multiple bowel movements and result in liquid stools.

Note: Please call your physician if you were unable to complete your prep. It may be necessary that your test be re-scheduled.
You will also receive instructions on which foods or liquids you may eat or drink prior to the procedure. You may be asked to stay on liquids 1-2 days before your scheduled procedure.
For your safety, you will be asked to stop eating or drinking any food or liquids at least 4 hours prior to the procedure.

Upon Admission:

  • Your nurse will take your blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs
  • You will be asked about pain of any kind
  • Your nurse will go over all of the forms that will need to be filled out
  • Your medications and allergies to medications will be reviewed
  • An IV will be started
  • An assessment will be completed

The Procedure

  • Your physician may take biopsies, remove polyps or perform treatment during the procedure (specimens will be sent for testing and your physician’s office will call you with the results).
  • Monitors will be placed on you in order that we may monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation.
  • You will be placed on a small amount of oxygen through a nasal cannula.
  • Medications will be given by physicians orders throughout the procedure (medications commonly used are Demerol; Versed; Fentanyl; and Phenergan). Please notify your nurse if you are allergic to any of these medications.
  • The procedure will usually take an average of 30-45 minutes
  • Recovery time may vary between 2-3 hours

We require that the person accompanying you remain at the Center during your procedure and to drive you home after your procedure. If you have any valuables with you, we will ask that you give them to the person accompanying you. Remember to ask any questions that you may have at any time.

Recovery


You will remain in recovery for at least 30 minutes. The nurse will take your temperature, vital signs and do an assessment and your physician will talk to you about your procedure. If appropriate, you will then be discharged.

Discharge

Discharge instructions will be reviewed with you and the person accompanying you and will include all of the following:

  • Do not operate machinery or heavy equipment for 24 hours
  • Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours
  • Drink plenty of other fluids
  • Avoid any foods that are greasy or spicy for the first meal
  • Call your physician if you experience severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or bleeding.

You may be very sleepy at the time of discharge. You are encouraged to go home and rest for the rest of the day. Any special instructions from your physician will be written on the discharge sheet. Your physician will determine if follow-up is needed.

Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).

5 Important Sleep Mistakes You Might Be Making

Sleep isn’t just “time out” from daily life. It is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. Listed below are top reasons people regularly fail to get a good night’s sleep:

1. “Catching up” on Sleep

Though you may feel more rested on Monday morning after sleeping in all weekend, that extra shut-eye doesn’t erase all of the drawbacks from not getting enough sleep during the week. While extra weekend sleep does help reduce daytime sleepiness and stress, your ability to focus and pay attention will still be reduced. It can also throw off your internal body clock (also known as your circadian rhythm) and lead to Sunday night insomnia.

2. Caffeine

When it comes to sleep, caffeine has the power to interfere with regular sleep patterns, as well as help hide existing sleep deprivation, which can, in turn, lead to issues like insufficient sleep disorder. To avoid caffeine-related sleep problems, stop intake of the substance—whether through coffee, soda, chocolate, or any other form—for at least four to six hours before going to sleep. Doing so is one step toward creating good sleep hygiene habits. And remember: caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours, so if you’re a person who is highly susceptible to caffeine-related side effects, it’s best to avoid having caffeine any time after lunch.

Solution: Give yourself three good night’s sleep to get back to a  normal routine after serious sleep deprivation.

3. Hitting The Snooze Button

The extra sleep that you can get by hitting snooze comes in small chunks and isn’t good quality—and it can actually do you some harm. Since the snooze session doesn’t last long enough for you to finish a complete sleep cycle, you could end up feeling super groggy for the first hour and a half of your day.

Solution: Set your alarm for when you actually need to get up. Try to set it for the same time every day (even on the weekends). This regularity can help you wake up without the need for an alarm in the long run.

4. Alcohol

Drinking actually increases deep sleep during the first part of the night. Although this is true, you aren’t actually getting the rest your body needs. Here’s why: during the second half of the night, this sleepy effect wears off and you’ll be more likely to wake up or toss and turn, reducing your overall time spent asleep. In addition, REM sleep (the deepest stage of sleep, during which you dream) is negatively affected by booze. This is the stage of sleep that helps boost memory, concentration, and learning, so paying attention at work may feel a tad challenging after a night of one too many drinks.

Solution: Avoid drinking alcohol just before you go to bed. On average, it takes an hour for the body to process one unit of alcohol. Instead, opt for herbal teas, such as chamomile or sleepy time tea.

5. Technology

It may seem harmless to knock out a few emails before bed or unwind with a favorite movie, but by keeping your mind engaged, technology can trick your brain into thinking that it needs to stay awake. And if you’re surfing the web, seeing something exciting on Facebook, or reading a negative email, those experiences can make it hard to relax and settle into slumber. After spending an entire day surrounded by technology, your mind needs time to unwind.

Solution: Give yourself a tech curfew, move your electronics out of the bedroom if needed.

Finally…

The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight. No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort.

Sleep isn’t just a “time out” from daily life. It is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. If you’re failing to get a good night’s sleep, contact us to schedule an appointment or answer any questions.

(Some information provided by Sleep.org)

Snoring Solutions to Help You Get Better Sleep

Snoring is a common symptom that acts as an alert of sleep apnea. When snoring and sleepiness co-exist, the likelihood of sleep apnea must be considered. Snoring can be problematic, not only for the person snoring but also for anyone nearby.

Diagnosis & Treatment

People who snore make a vibrating, rattling, noisy sound while breathing during sleep. It may be a symptom of sleep apnea. A few other signs might be:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Recent weight gain
  • Awakening in the morning not feeling rested
  • Awaking at night feeling confused
  • Change in your level of attention, concentration, or memory
  • Observed pauses in breathing during sleep

Simple, non-invasive testing can be performed to accurately diagnose many leading conditions that may cause snoring or excessive sleepiness. If treatment is necessary, it can be accomplished through a second-night study. In many cases, patients will become more alert and productive the very next day, no surgery or medications required. These conditions can be very quickly corrected, resulting in an improved quality of life, as well as decreasing cardiovascular risks for heart attacks, strokes, and heart irregularities.

Sleep Tips

The good news is that diagnosing and treating these ailments is nothing to lose sleep over. Developing healthy sleep habits will encourage a decrease or elimination in symptoms. Give these a try:

  • Avoid caffeine for six hours before bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol for two hours before bedtime
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes
  • Exercise, but not within 2 hours of bedtime
  • Maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle

Don’t stay in the dark about healthy sleep. Visit the Sleep Center at ADC. Other disorders can also disturb your sleep. They may include periodic movements in sleep, restless legs syndrome, nightmares, panic attacks, sleep walking, sleep talking and many others. Contact Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic to schedule an appointment.

Additional information about sleep disorders can be obtained from the American Sleep Disorders Association or by scheduling an appointment for a consultation with a sleep specialist.

What To Expect From A Nerve Conduction Study

An electromyogram (EMG) measures the electrical activity of muscles at rest and during contraction. Nerve conduction studies measure how well and how fast the nerves can send electrical signals. Nerves control the muscles in the body with electrical signals called impulses. These impulses make the muscles react in specific ways. Nerve and muscle problems cause the muscles to react in abnormal ways.

During NSC, mild electrical currents are applied to the skin on some parts of your body. This is done to see how quickly impulses travel between nerves. EMG assesses muscle function. To do this, a fine needle is placed under your skin into the muscle being tested. This is repeated on other muscles. The needle allows the electrical activity in your muscles to be measured. No electrical currents are applied with the needle.

During each test, wavy lines (waveforms) appear on a screen or on paper. these lines show how well your nerves and muscles work. These waveforms help to determine your test results.

Before Your Test

Prepare for your test as instructed. Shower or bathe, but don’t use powder, oil, or lotion. your skin should be clean and free of excess oil. Wear loose clothes. Be aware that you may be asked to change into a hospital gown. the entire test will take about 1 hour. Be sure to allow extra time to check in.

During Your Test

You will be asked to lie on an exam table with a blanket over you. You may have one or both of the following:

Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)

Small metal disks (electrodes) will be attached to your skin on the area of your body being tested. This will be done using water based gel or paste. A doctor or technologist will apply mind electrical currents to your skin. Your muscles will twitch. But the test won’t harm you. Currents may again be applied to the same area. Or, the test may continue on other parts of your body.

Electromyography (EMG)

Most of the electrodes will be removed for EMG. The doctor will clean the area being tested with alcohol. A fine needle will be inserted into the muscle in this region. When the needle is inserted, you may feel as if your skin is being pinched. Try to relax and do as instructed.

After Your Test

Before you leave, all electrodes will be removed. You can then get right back to your normal routine. If you feel tired or have some discomfort, take it easy. If you were told to stop taking any for your test, ask when you can start taking them again. Your doctor will let you know when your test results are ready.

For the safety and for the success of your test, tell the technologist if you have any bleeding problems or if you take blood thinners. You may also be asked questions about your overall health. Contact us to answer any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by Medicine Health).

Gut Instinct: How Bacteria Plays an Important Role in Your Body

“The relationship between bacteria and our bodies plays a role is everything that happens to us.”

In fact, there are a greater number of bacteria in your intestines than there are cells in your body. Did you know that intestinal bacteria allows us to obtain greater nutrients from out food, develop sophisticated immune systems, and balance cognition and emotions? Several studies showed germ-free mice who were inoculated with specific bacteria generated and delivered neurotransmitters to the brain, affecting anxiety, corticosteroid production, and colitis symptoms. Human studies using yogurt with probiotics showed emotion and sensitivity were statistically different when probiotics were consumed.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are good bacteria that are either the same as or very similar to the bacteria that are already in your body. Your lower digestive tract alone teams with a complex and diverse community of these bacteria.

What Are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food components that are linked to promoting the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut. Basically, they are “good” bacteria promoters.

Finally…

Future uses of colon bacteria to improve health include:

  • Creating intestinal bacteria which promotes endocrine functions, like insulin production
  • Produce highly selective non-absorbable antibiotics
  • Invent drugs to alter bacteria to bacteria communication
  • Understand probiotics to manipulate health and disease
  • Transplant stool from thin people for treatment of obesity
  • Improve nutrient absorption to end starvation

The bottom line: Your gut is the first line of defense when you consume a potentially harmful pathogen. Good gut flora can protect you in several ways, while a poor gut can allow these pathogens to wreak havoc on your body. Contact us if you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment.

How Does A Sleep Study Work?

A sleep study is a non-invasive, overnight exam that allows doctors to monitor you while you sleep to see what’s happening in your brain and body.

What is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study may involve the following: Polysomnogram (PSG) – a diagnostic test which monitors brain activity, breathing and leg movements which helps to evaluate sleep apnea (obstruction of air flow) or a condition known as periodic leg movements of sleep. Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – a daytime sleep study which evaluates how fast a person falls asleep.

Should You Get a Sleep Study?

The National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates that millions of Americans are needlessly suffering from undiagnosed or misdiagnosed sleep disorders. Left untreated, sleep disorders can lead to increased health risks and an overall lower quality of life.

To determine whether you might benefit from a sleep evaluation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you regularly have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep?
  • Do you have a problem with snoring? Has anyone ever told you that you have pauses in breathing or that you gasp for breath when you sleep?
  • Are your legs “active” at night? Do you experience tingling, creeping, itching, pulling, aching or other strange feelings in your legs while sitting or lying down that cause a strong urge to move, walk or kick your legs for relief?
  • Are you so tired when you wake up in the morning that you cannot function normally during the day?
  • Does sleepiness and fatigue persist for more than two to three weeks?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a complete sleep evaluation should be considered.

What to Expect?

The first step will be an initial visit with our sleep specialist who will review your medical and sleep history. You will then schedule an appointment for an overnight visit. To help determine if a sleep disorder exists, your physician will need to know what physiologic changes occur during your typical night of sleep. We do this by recording your brainwave pattern (known as the EEG) as well as your eye movements and degree of muscle tone. Using an EKG monitor, we will measure your heart rate and check for irregular heart beats during the night. Other measurements will include oxygen saturation, snoring, leg movements or jerking and respiratory effort. An intercom in the room will allow communication with the technician should you have any questions or require assistance. Studies will usually begin between 8:00 pm and 9:30 pm and will conclude at about 6 am. You will then follow up with your physician who will make recommendations for treatment of the disorder.

How to Prepare?

In order to feel more comfortable with your stay, feel free to bring your toiletries and usual sleepwear and if you prefer, your own pillow. (It is helpful to avoid using hair products or skin lotions on the night of the study). It is recommended that you eat a meal prior to your study and continue to take medications as prescribed (unless your physician specifies otherwise). It is also preferred that you not consume foods or beverages containing caffeine after 5pm.

Finally…

The Sleep Disorders Center at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is a comprehensive clinic supervised by a physician board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and is a Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Using the latest technology for diagnosing and treating sleep disorders in a comfortable and home-like atmosphere, our team of sleep professionals is dedicated to providing the highest quality of sleep for our patients. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule and appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Sleep Foundation).

Top Questions and Answers About Diabetes

Have a question about diabetes? Get quick answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to properly utilize blood sugar. Carbohydrate foods create blood sugar and the body needs insulin in order to process the sugar into energy for the body to function properly.

Type I diabetes is a condition in which the body’s immune system damages the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. This form of diabetes is treated with insulin replacement by injection since the body is no longer capable of producing enough of its own insulin.

Type II diabetes is a much more common form and is progressive in nature. This form of diabetes causes insulin resistance which means the body still produces insulin but had difficulty utilizing it. There are various medications in pill form to treat Type II diabetes, but because of the nature of Type II diabetes, sometimes the pancreas wears out and insulin replacement by injection is required.

Is There a Cure?

At this time there is no permanent cure for diabetes. Your physician will determine what medications you may need and should be carefully used daily. You should visit your doctor every three to six months so that the efficacy of treatment can be re-evaluated. Good glucose control is essential in order to prevent or retard the onset of diabetic complications. These include, but are not limited to damage to the small vessels of the eye, kidney damage, coronary artery disease, and peripheral nerve damage. These complications can lead to blindness, heart attack or stroke, dialysis, and amputation. The good news is that with proper self-care and medical expertise you can significantly reduce or avoid these complications altogether.

Am I At Risk?

Good news, you can check! Glycohemoglobin is a test developed to give information about your average blood sugar level during the past two or three months. It should be checked every three to six months. The American Diabetic Association recommends that the patient’s diabetic regimen be adjusted to achieve a glycohemoglobin of less than 7%. Any contributing risk factor for vascular disease should be aggressively assessed and treated. Cholesterol, triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and smoking are all factors that need to be addressed. Your physician or educator can help you understand your results and your treatment options. Some medications typically used to treat elevated blood pressure also have a protective effect in preventing kidney complications of diabetes. Any medication prescribed by your physician should be taken only as directed. Consult your doctor before adding or deleting any medication including over the counter meds.

Microalbumin urine testing should be performed yearly to evaluate the likelihood of diabetic kidney involvement.

A visit to the Ophthalmologist should be scheduled at least yearly. He or she will evaluate any diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, or other conditions and plan treatment accordingly.

You should have a Comprehensive Medical Exam yearly that includes a treadmill exercise test. Underlying coronary artery disease is often more common in an individual with diabetes and needs early intervention.

Sick Days require special consideration. Anything your body perceives as stress can and will increase your blood sugar. This stress can be physical or emotional in nature. If you are ill your blood glucose will rise even if you cannot eat. Rules of thumb for sick days are as follows.

  • Stick to your meal plan if you can eat.
  • Take your diabetes medication unless your physician tells you to stop.
  • Check with your doctor before taking any other medication.
  • Drink at least one large glass of liquid each hour. If you are eating, these liquids should be sugar-free.
  • Test your blood sugar every 4 hours.
  • Ask someone to check in on you or have them call every few hours to make sure you are all right.
  • If in doubt, consult your physician. Early and effective management of sick days will reduce your chances of developing diabetic coma.

What Should my Target Blood Glucose Level be With Diabetes?

Keeping your blood sugar in target will lower your risk of developing complications of diabetes. Target levels will depend on the person and their situation. Your health-care team will help you determine your own targets for blood sugar levels.

Finally…

Whether you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you can live a long and healthy life by eating healthy, being physically active, and taking medications (if prescribed) to keep your blood glucose (sugar) in your target range. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment. 

Warning Signs of Ovarian Cysts Every Woman Needs to Know

The ovaries are two small organs located on either side of a woman’s uterus. An ovarian cyst is a sac or pouch filled with fluid or other tissue that forms on the ovary. It is normal for a small cyst to develop on the ovaries. In most cases, cysts are harmless and go away on their own. In other cases, they may cause problems and need treatment.

Signs of Cysts

Most ovarian cysts are small and do not cause symptoms. Some cysts may cause a dull or sharp ache in the abdomen and pain during certain activities. Larger cysts may cause torsion (twisting) of the ovary that causes pain. Cysts that bleed or rupture may lead to serious problems requiring prompt treatment. In rare cases, a cyst may be cancerous. In it’s early stages, ovarian cancer often has no symptoms, so you should be aware of it’s warning signs.

Diagnosis

An ovarian cyst may be found during a routine pelvic exam. If your health care provider finds an enlarged ovary, tests may be recommended to provide more information.

  • Vaginal ultrasound: This procedure uses sound waves to create pictures of the internal organs that can be viewed on a screen. For this test, a slender instrument called a transducer is placed in the vagina. The views created by the sound waves show the shape, size, location and makeup of the cyst.
  • Laparoscopy: In the type of surgery, a laparoscope – a thin tube with a camera – is inserted into the abdomen to view the pelvic organs. Laparoscopy can also be used to treat cysts.
  • Blood tests: If you are past menopause, in addition to an ultrasound exam, you may be given a test that measures the amount of a substance called CA 125 in your blood. An increased CA 125 level may be a sign of ovarian cancer in women past menopause. In premenopausal women, an increased CA 125 level can be caused by many other conditions besides cancer. Therefore, this test is not a good indicator of ovarian cancer in premenopausal women.

If your health care provider thinks that your cyst may be cancer, more tests may be ordered. It may be recommended that you see a doctor who specializes in gynecologic cancer.

Treatment

If your cyst is not causing any symptoms, your health care provider may simply monitor it for 1 – 2 months and check to see whether it has changed in size. Most functional cysts go away on their own after one or two menstrual cycles. If you are past menopause and have concerns about cancer, your health care provider may recommend regular ultrasound exams to monitor your condition.

Finally…

Many women have ovarian cysts at some time during their lives. Most ovarian cysts present little or no discomfort and are harmless. The majority of ovarian cysts disappear without treatment within a few months. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.