Medical literature is full of stories about things ending up in the wrong places, and a new paper in the journal BMJ Case Reports continues the trend by describing the contents of one woman’s ovarian cyst. Aside from skin, hair, and tooth-like growths called calcifications, doctors also discovered “a foreign object resembling vegetable matter” within the cyst.
The 32-year-old woman was first admitted to hospital in Rochester, Michigan, with stomach pains, and a preliminary scan revealed evidence of a possible colon abscess. However, further investigation revealed that her left ovary had become enlarged to 6.7 by 5 centimeters (2.64 by 2 inches) – more than double its normal size.
The ovary was firmly stuck to the wall of the pelvis and the colon, and had to be surgically peeled away. Next to the ovary was a large cyst called a dermoid, which the study authors describe as “very foul-smelling [and] suspected of superinfection.”
Dermoid cysts develop from reproductive cells inside the ovaries, which have the potential to differentiate into all kinds of tissue. Occasionally, they grow into skin, hair, or even teeth, often leading to infections and requiring antibiotic treatment or surgical removal.
While this might sound a little unpleasant, it isn’t all that unusual. However, the same cannot be said for the vegetable matter, which mysteriously found its way into the cyst. The study authors say the vagrant veggie probably leaked through a hole in the woman’s bowel, which must have later “sealed spontaneously” as no evidence of any kind of perforation was found during surgery.
Fortunately for the patient, she experienced no major symptoms and was released from the hospital nine days after surgery.
However, the study authors say that this case study should change the way that doctors approach ovarian cysts, as it indicates that infection can come from the gastrointestinal tract rather than just the genital tract. As such, they say that the antibiotics used to treat the condition should now cover a wider range of bacteria.