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Bartholin gland cyst

Bartholin gland cysts (sometimes shortened to Bartholin cysts) are cysts of the Bartholin gland, found in the posterolateral inferior third of the vagina and are associated with the labia majora.

Most patients are asymptomatic 4.

  • infection: may turn into Bartholin gland abscesses
  • rare instances of development of adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma within the cyst 5

Cysts form as a result of an obstruction of the gland's duct by a stone/stenosis related to prior infection or trauma 6. Chronic inflammation can lead to ductal obstruction from pus or thick mucus which in turn can result in retained secretions within the Bartholin glands. 

They are typically seen as rounded unilocular cysts lying at the posterior aspect of the vagina. Their location is at or below the level of the pubic symphysis (best appreciated on coronal imaging).

May only be demonstrated on transperineal ultrasound if the cyst is close to the labia.

Signal characteristics include:

  • T1: can be of variable signal
  • T2: often of uniform hyperintensity on T2-weighted imaging although can occasionally vary dependent on protein content, may also be heterogeneous when infected

Infected or symptomatic cysts may require marsupialization.

The Bartholin glands are named after the Danish anatomist Caspar Bartholin the Younger (1655-1738), who made the first detailed study of their physiology and anatomy in humans 7.

General imaging differential considerations include:

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Article information

rID: 12710
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Bartholin's cysts
  • Bartholin cysts
  • Bartholin's cyst
  • Bartholin cyst
  • Bartholin's gland cyst
  • Bartholin gland cysts
  • Bartholin's gland cysts

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Cases and figures

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