A salpingo-oophorectomy is the surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. The surgery gets its names from the two procedures involved:

  • Salpingectomy removes the fallopian tube or tubes.
  • Oophorectomy removes an ovary or the ovaries.

A unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy removes one ovary and one fallopian tube. A bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy removes both ovaries and both fallopian tubes. This procedure may be performed as an open surgery or a laparoscopic surgery.

Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy may be an option to reduce the risk for ovarian and breast cancer, particularly in women with BRCA gene mutations. In such cases, prophylactic mastectomy may be performed at the same time as a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. To reduce the need for future procedures, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy may be performed on healthy ovaries and fallopian tubes at the time of another surgery, such as a hysterectomy. Women who have certain types of ovarian masses or cysts also may be candidates.

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive option available to some patients undergoing a salpingo-oophorectomy. This procedure uses a smaller abdominal incision than open surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the abdominal wall, just below the belly button. A laparoscope (a tube containing a tiny lens, camera and light source) is then inserted through the incision, helping to guide the surgeon to the target area with the aid of images projected on a video monitor. The surgeon then detaches the ovary and fallopian tube and removes them though a small incision at the top of the vagina. Patients undergoing laparoscopic surgery may have a shorter recovery time than with traditional open surgery.

Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy causes sterility and may trigger surgical menopause, causing long-term side effects because of the hormonal disruptions involved. Patients undergoing this procedure should talk to their doctor to understand the related risks and side effects and how to manage them.