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Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a complication from some forms of fertility medication.
OHSS is characterized by the presence of multiple luteinized cysts within the ovaries leading to ovarian enlargment and secondary complications.
In mild forms of OHSS the ovaries are enlarged, in moderate forms there is additional accumulation of ascites with mild abdominal distension, while in severe forms of OHSS there may be hemoconcentration , thrombosis, abdominal pain and distension, oliguria, pleural effusion, and respiratory distress. Early OHSS develops before pregnancy testing, and late OHSS is seen in early pregnancy.
Sporadic OHSS is very rare. Clomiphene therapy can occasionally lead to OHSS on occasion. The vast majority of cases develop after use of gonadotropin therapy (with administration of FSH), such as Pergonal, and administration of hCG to trigger ovulation, often in conjunction with IVF. The frequency varies and depends on patient factors, management, and methods of surveillance. About 5% of treated patients may encounter moderate to severe OHSS.
Patients experience weight gain, fluid retention , and abdominal distention and pain. In more severe cases difficulty in breathing is encountered.
As the ovary undergoes a process of extensive luteinization, large amounts of estrogens,progesterone, and local cytokines are released. It is held that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key substance that induces OHSS by making local capillaries "leaky" leading to a shift of fluids from the intravascular system to the adbominal and pleural cavity. Thus, while the patient accumulates fluid in the third space, primarily in the form of ascites, she actually becomes hypovolemic and it at risk for respiratory, circulatory, and renal problems. Patients who are pregnant sustain the ovarian luteinization process by the production of hCG.
Physicians can reduce the risk of OHSS by monitoring of FSH therapy to use this medication judiciously, and by withholding hCG medication. Once OHSS develops, reduction in physical activity, monitoring fluid and electrolyte balance, and aspiration of accumulated fluid from the abdominal/pleural cavity may be necessary. Over time the condition will naturally reverse to normal.
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