Tubo-ovarian abscess


Risk factors

  • Multiple sex partners
  • Age 15-25 years old
  • Prior history of PID
  • IUD (within 21 days of insertion[1])
  • HIV infection

Clinical Features

  • +/-Fever
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Dyspareunia
  • Disproportionate unilateral adnexal tenderness or adnexal mass or fullness
  • Suspect in patient who does not respond after 72hr of treatment for PID

Differential Diagnosis

Pelvic Pain

Pelvic origin

Abdominal origin


Dilated, complex, fluid-filled tubular structure is consistent with hydro/pyosalpinx (A, B). Short-axis image (C) demonstrates the “cog-wheel” pattern of the endosalpingeal folds, indicative of tubal inflammation in pelvic inflammatory disease with a pyosalpinx or a hydrosalpinx. (arrows).
  • CBC
  • Transvaginal pelvic ultrasound (Sn 75-82%)
  • CT pelvis (Sn 78-100%) - preferred in patients in whom associated GI pathology must be excluded


  • OB/GYN consult for possible operative drainage.
  • Majority (60-80%) resolve with antibiotics alone
  • Predictors of antibiotic treatment failure and possible indications for IR drainage upon admission to Ob[2]
    • WBC > 16,000
    • TOA size > 5.2 cm




  • Decision should be made in conjunction with gynecological colleague
  • Patient with fevers, elevated WBC, abscess greater than 5 cm, or systemic toxicity demand admission
  • Hemodynamically stable, afebrile patients with a relatively small abscess can be safely discharged with close gynecological follow up on antibiotics

See Also


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/pid.htm
  2. Huma F et al. Inpatient Management of Tubo-Ovarian Abscesses: What Is the Threshold of Parenteral Antibiotic Treatment Failure? Obstetrics & Gynecology: May 2015