What is the pathophysiology of Bartholin gland diseases?

Updated: Aug 10, 2017
  • Author: Antonia Quinn, DO; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Answer

Bartholin glands are known to form cysts and abscesses in women of reproductive age. Cysts and abscesses are often clinically distinguishable. Bartholin cysts form when the ostium of the duct becomes obstructed, leading to distention of the gland or duct with fluid. Obstruction is usually secondary to nonspecific inflammation or trauma. The cyst is usually 1-3 cm in diameter and often asymptomatic, although larger cysts may be associated with pain and dyspareunia. [1, 2, 9, 10]

Bartholin abscesses result from either primary gland infection or infected cyst. Patients with abscesses complain of acute, rapidly progressive vulvar pain. Studies have shown that these abscesses are usually polymicrobial and rarely attributable to sexually transmitted pathogens.

Adenocarcinoma of the Bartholin glands is rare, accounting for 1-2% of all vulvar malignancies. Typically, this lesion presents as a gradually enlarging gland in an asymptomatic, postmenopausal woman. [3]


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