INTRODUCTION: Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer among women in the developed world, and most women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an advanced stage of disease, when large intraperitoneal dissemination has already occurred. An accurate preoperative assessment of the tumor dissemination is pivotal for adequate counseling among risks and benefits of an aggressive surgical procedure, often required to achieve a complete cytoreduction. When performed by an experienced sonographer, ultrasound has an invaluable role in the primary diagnosis of gynecological cancer, in the assessment of tumor extent in the pelvis and abdominal cavity; however, there is a paucity of data on its use in the evaluation of the extent of disease of such patients. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: The search retrieved 208 articles in the best matching results list. Selection by abstract and full-text, yielded 15 publications that contained information on the role of ultrasound examination in the assessment of diffused peritoneal malignancies. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Sonographic appearance of metastatic nodules in peritoneum and omentum were firstly analyzed in preliminar descriptive studies, together with a systematic method to scan the abdomen and pelvis in in the staging of diffused gynecological malignancies. To date, three prospective studies mainly focused on the specific role of ultrasound (without comparison with other imaging modalities) in the evaluation of intra-abdominal tumor extension in ovarian cancer patients. In these studies, authors were in agreement to conclude that ultrasound has a very reliable role in the staging of ovarian cancer. In particular, ultrasound examination showed a high sensitivity (range 81.4-91%) and specificity (range 88-96%) in the diagnosis of peritoneal carcinomatosis, as well as in omental involvement (sense 67-94%, specificity 90%). In a recent prospective study ultrasound shows similar accuracy of CT scan in the staging of ovarian cancer patients (71% vs. 75%) when compared with surgical results. CONCLUSIONS: Even if ultrasound is a largely diffuse and practice imaging technique, there is a paucity of data in literature on its use in the evaluation of the extent of disease in ovarian cancer patiens. Nevertheless, this review has demonstrated that ultrasound has a high accuracy in staging advanced ovarian cancer patients. In certain settings, ultrasound has already replaced CT scan in the pre-operative evaluation of pelvic and abdominal disease. Finally, ultrasound allows to perform a biopsy in patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis obtaining an adequate specimen for histologic diagnosis.
- Ovarian Neoplasms
- Peritoneal Neoplasms