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Clinical case: Müllerian cyst

In this article, we describe a case of a woman who developed a Müllerian Cyst. We will explore its diagnosis, signs, symptoms, and management, together with some anatomical explanations that will help you understand the topic as much as possible!

Case key facts
Cystocele - a collapsed urinary bladder caused by a degradation of the fascia between the bladder and vagina, usually occurring in postmenopausal women.
Manifestation - urinary incontinence
Causes - Lack of estrogen
Rectocele a bulging of the rectum into the vagina caused by a degradation of the septum on the posterior side of the vagina
Manifestations - rectal pain, constipation, difficulties during sexual intercourse
Causes - hysterectomy, childbirth
Enterocele - a prolapse of the small bowel into the pelvis, resulting in a bulge of the vaginal wall
Causes - pregnancy, childbirth, aging
Urethrocele - a collapsed urinary bladder caused by a degradation of the fascia between the bladder and vagina, usually occurring in postmenopausal women.
'Para 2' Para (parity) represents the number of times a female is or has carried a pregnancy to term, so 'para 2' refers to two pregnancies carried to term
Origins of cysts Mesonephric duct cyst - non-malignant cyst that develops from the vestigial remnant of the mesonephric ducts
Inclusion cysts - develop from an abnormal proliferation of epidermal cells within a specific area in the dermis
Skene’s glands - their ducts that drain into the distal urethra may become infected and swell, producing cysts
Bartholin’s glands - their ducts that drain into the vagina can become obstructed and distended
Vaginal fornices Superior recesses of the vagina formed due to the protrusion of the cervix into the upper portion of the vagina
Anesthesia Spinal - anesthetic is injected inside the subarachnoid space within the lumbar cistern, impairing movement and numbing
Epidural - anesthetic is injected inside the epidural space surrounding the inferior part of the dural sac, causing only loss of sensation while preserving motor control.

After reviewing this case you should be able to describe the following:

  • What is meant by a cystocele and what are the typical causes of this condition. What is meant by a rectocele and what are its causes. And the same for an enterocele.
  • What is meant by “para 2.” What is the associated term is and what it means. 
  • The origin (briefly) of: inclusion, mesonephric (Gartner’s), Skene’s and Bartholin’s gland cysts; also the basis of a urethrocele, and urethral diverticulum.
  • What is meant by the vaginal fornices.
  • What is spinal anesthesia? How it differs from epidural anesthesia.

This article is based on a case report published in the Journal "Case Reports in Surgery" in 2015, by Caroline C. Jadlowiec, Beata E. Lobel, Namita Akolkar, Michael D. Bourque, Thomas J. Devers, and David W. McFadden.

It has been modified and reviewed by Joel A. Vilensky PhD, Carlos A. Suárez-Quian PhD, Aykut Üren, MD.

  1. Case description
    1. History and clinical examination
    2. Imaging
    3. Management and evolution
  2. Anatomical and surgical considerations
  3. Objective explanations
    1. Objectives
    2. Definition and causes of a cystocele, rectocele, & enterocele
    3. Meaning of 'para 2'
    4. Origin of various Cysts and the basis of urethrocele and urethral diverticulum
    5. Vaginal fornices
    6. Spinal anesthesia
  4. Sources
+ Show all

Case description

History and clinical examination

A 42-year-old woman, para 2, was referred to the gynecology clinic after an initial incorrect diagnosis of having a cystocele. Upon physical examination she was found to have a very large (8 cm) nontender mass protruding from the anterior wall of her vagina (Figure 1).

Figure 1. A. Cadaver photograph showing normal female external genital anatomy. B. Photograph of patient showing cyst (Müllerian cyst).

The asymptomatic mass had been apparent for about six months. The patient’s medical history was unremarkable. The mass was soft and could be readily compressed by manual pressure.


Perineal ultrasonography and cystoscopy showed that the cyst was not related to the lower urinary tract; thus, the mass was likely a singular entity (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Perineal ultrasound demonstrating that the cyst was not functionally related to the urethra and bladder.

This conclusion was further supported when the patient was evaluated after bladder emptying and the cyst did not change in size. Abdominal and vaginal ultrasonography failed to reveal any renal or associated internal genital pathology.

Management and evolution

Surgical extirpation was performed and the mass was removed via a vaginal approach, under spinal anesthesia. 

There were no postoperative complications, and at the 4-week follow-up visit, the patient was in good clinical condition. Pathology confirmed a benign Müllerian cyst lined with mucinous and squamous epithelium (Figure 3). 

Figure 3. Histological image showing cyst was lined by columnar mucin producing epithelium and squamous epithelium.

Anatomical and surgical considerations

The female reproductive system develops from two components: the urogenital sinus and the paramesonephric ducts. The two are conjoined at the sinus tubercle (Müllerian eminence). Paramesonephric ducts degenerate in males, but the adjoining mesonephric ducts (Wolffian) develop into male reproductive organs. This sex based differences in the contributions of the paramesonephric ducts to reproductive organs is dependent on the production, and degree of presence, of Müllerian Inhibiting Factor.

Vaginal cysts are relatively rare and tend to be small (less than 2 cm), to present in the third or fourth decade of life, and most are Müllerian, as in this case. The differential diagnoses of a cyst in the lower female genital tract include:

  • Müllerian, inclusion, mesonephric (Gartner’s), Skene’s and Bartholin’s gland cysts;
  • pelvic organ prolapse,
  • hematocolpos, and
  • a myxomatous tumor.

Simple mesonephric (Gartner’s) or paramesonephric (Müllerian) cysts are prevalent near the fornices. But the most common location for Müllerian cysts, as here, is along the anterolateral aspect of the vagina. The great majority of vaginal cysts are asymptomatic and require no treatment. However, as in this case, a Müllerian cyst may become sufficiently large to become problematic and require excision. When cysts are symptomatic, patients may complain of:

  • vaginal discomfort,
  • vaginal pressure,
  • vaginal mass,
  • dyspareunia,
  • vaginal bleeding,
  • or urinary symptoms.

Müllerian cysts are benign. The patient in this case had an usual cyst in that it grew in size, was mistakenly diagnosed as a cystocele, and became symptomatic. 

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