Mon | Jun 21, 2021

All about dermoid ovarian cysts

Published:Monday | June 3, 2019 | 12:18 AM

When most women think about the causes for female reproductive difficulties, they consider polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and even fibroids. Not many are aware of dermoid ovarian cyst which is prevalent among black women. There are many women that remain silent about this topic due to the bizarre nature of the cyst, but Flair is here to shed some light on it.

A dermoid ovarian cyst is considered the ‘cooky cousin’ of the cyst family. It is a peculiar tumour, usually benign, that is found in the ovary. This cyst typically contains a diversity of tissues, including hair, teeth, bone, thyroid, fat, and more. A dermoid cyst develops from a totipotential germ cell (cell that has the ability to turn into anything) that is retained within the egg sac (ovary). Being totipotential, that cell can give rise to all orders of cells necessary to form mature tissues and often recognisable structures such as hair, bone and sebaceous (oily) material, neural tissue, and teeth. Dermoid cysts of the ovary are also referred to as simply dermoids or ovarian teratomas.

Dermoid cysts may occur at any age but the prime age of detection is in the childbearing years. The average age is 30. Up to 15 per cent of women with dermoid cysts have them in both ovaries. Dermoid cysts can range in size from a centimetre (less than a half inch) up to 45 cm (about 17 inches) in diameter. These cysts can cause the ovary to twist (torsion) and imperil its blood supply.

As it relates to medical concern, the larger the dermoid cyst, the greater the risk of rupture with spillage of the greasy contents, which can create problems with adhesions, pain, etc. Although the large majority (about 98 per cent) of these tumours are benign, the remaining fraction (about two per cent) becomes cancerous (malignant).


There is no known cause for the development of the cyst and it can go undetected for years. Symptoms such as intense pain will prompt a physician to check, using an abdominopelvic computed tomography (CT) scan imaging.

Removal of the dermoid cyst is usually the treatment of choice. This can be done by laparotomy (open surgery) or laparoscopy (with a scope). Torsion (twisting) of the ovary by the cyst is an emergency and calls for urgent surgery.


West Indian Medical Journal: Ovarian Dermoid Cyst Causing Distal Ureteral Obstruction. Medical Definition of Dermoid cyst of the ovary.