Children's Hospital Colorado

Ovarian Torsion in Children

What is pediatric ovarian torsion?

Ovarian torsion occurs when the supporting structures of the ovary, including its blood supply, become twisted. A twisted ovary can lead to poor blood drainage and cause painful expansion of the tissue. A decrease in blood and oxygen to the ovaries can damage egg cells and the cells that help with puberty and the production of female hormones. Although ovarian torsion can occur at any age, we will be focusing on pediatric ovarian torsion in this article.

Illustration showing how ovarian torsion can twist the ovary and block the flow of blood.

 

What causes pediatric ovarian torsion?

When ovaries are elevated above the uterus, they become less stable, which makes it easier for the ovaries and their support structures to become twisted. The adult uterus is large enough that the ovaries generally remain stable, tucked behind the uterus. Therefore, torsion in adults usually happens when a cyst or mass develops within the ovary, causing it to increase in size and elevate above the uterus. However, the uterus in children and younger adolescents is smaller and the ovaries float above it naturally. As a result, up to half of all torsion cases in girls and young teens happens to those with normal ovaries.

Who gets ovarian torsion?

Ovarian torsion occurs in females and may happen at any age, from children and adolescents, up through a woman's reproductive lifespan.