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Bartholin’s cyst - marsupialisation

If you want to find out about bartholin's cyst symptoms and diagnosis, and bartholin's cyst treatment, you will find the following information of interest.


If you are considering having a bartholin’s cyst operation or have one planned, it is important to know all you can about it. This includes:


  • why you need this operation

  • what it will be like

  • how it will affect you

  • what risks are involved

  • any alternatives.


The information here is a guide to common medical practice. Each hospital and doctor will have slightly different ways of doing things in treating bartholin's cyst, so you should follow their guidance where it is different from the information given here. Because all patients, conditions and treatments vary it cannot cover everything. Use this information when making your treatment choices with your doctors. You should mention any worries you have. Remember that you can ask for more information at any time.


What is the problem?

You have a swelling near the back of the opening of your vagina. This may just be a cyst with liquid in it or it may be a painful abscess full of pus. This is the swelling of a gland, called the Bartholin’s gland.


What is a Bartholin’s gland?

There are several glands with openings close to the entrance of your vagina. A gland here means a group of cells under the skin. The cells make a liquid called mucus. This passes into your vagina through tiny openings. The liquid lubricates your vagina during sexual intercourse. If the openings become blocked, the liquid builds up to make a cyst. An infection of the cyst will cause a Bartholin’s abscess. An abscess may burst through the skin releasing pus.


Bartholin, a Danish anatomist, discovered these glands; hence the name, Bartholin’s glands and Bartholin’s cyst.

Bartholin’s cyst

The aims

The aim of the operation is to get rid of your swelling. Removing the swollen gland could damage your vagina. Instead, we enlarge the opening to the gland, creating a tiny pouch. The liquid and pus can then drain out and the swelling should not return. The operation is called marsupialisation after the pouches seen in marsupial animals, such as kangaroos.


The benefits

Having the operation will relieve your pain or discomfort from the swelling. The new opening will allow mucus from the gland to reach your vagina.


Are there any alternatives?

If infection is causing your symptoms antibiotics may help, but the cyst often remains troublesome. Drawing off the liquid or pus with a needle can reduce the swelling but it will usually return.


What if you do nothing?  

If you do nothing, the swelling is likely to continue causing pain and could burst. You would suffer unnecessarily and the problem often returns.


Author: Dr David Hutchon M.R.C.O.G, F.R.C.O.G.  Consultant Gynaecologist.

© Dumas Ltd 2006

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