This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
Begins with dull pain low down on one side of the body; scanty menstruation, and finally suppression; dragging pain in the bowels; painful and frequent urination; difficulty in moving the bowels; great debility; loss of flesh; enlargement begins on one side of the body.
Ovarian dropsy consists in the formation of a cyst in the ovary which gradually enlaces until it obtains in some instances of very great size, and is filled with fluid which differs in character in different cases. The ovary is also subject to the growth of various other tumors, as fibrous and cancerous tumors. Ovarian dropsy generally runs its course in about four years. The causes are obscure. The difficulty is probably occasioned in many instances by inflammation of the ovary.
The medical treatment of ovarian dropsy consists in withdrawing the fluid by means of tapping, or preferably by the use of the aspirator, the employment of galvanism and electricity in other forms, and improvement of the patient's health in every possible way. In a case which we had under treatment a few years ago, the tumor had obtained such enormous size as to give to the patient, naturally a very slight woman, a waist circumference of over forty-four inches. The plan of treatment in this case was removal of the fluid by means of the aspirator, followed by the application of a strong galvanic current over the affected part. The result was that the patient was able to leave for her home after six or eight weeks' treatment without the slightest trace of any disease; and when we met her a year later, she continued well.
The only radical cure for the disease, however, is ovariotomy, a surgical operation by means of which the diseased ovary, with the cyst attached to it, is removed. This is a comparatively recent procedure, and is one of the most brilliant operations of modem surgery. When the operation was first employed, a very large proportion of those operated upon died; but so many improvements have been made since that time that skillful operators have now reduced the risk of death to eight per cent, or eight in one hundred. A celebrated English operator recently performed the last of one hundred successive cases without a single death.