The primary objective was to examine the role of pelvic fluid observed during transvaginal ultrasonography (TVS) in identifying ovarian malignancy. A single-institution, observational study was conducted within the University of Kentucky Ovarian Cancer Screening trial from January 1987 to September 2019. We analyzed true-positive (TP), false-positive (FP), true-negative (TN), and false-negative (FN) groups for the presence of pelvic fluid during screening encounters. Measured outcomes were the presence and duration of fluid over successive screening encounters. Of the 48,925 women surveyed, 2001 (4.1%) had pelvic fluid present during a TVS exam. The odds ratio (OR) of detecting fluid in the comparison group (TN screen; OR = 1) significantly differed from that of the FP cases (benign pathology; OR: 13.4; 95% confidence interval (CI): 9.1–19.8), the TP cases with a low malignant potential (LMP; OR: 28; 95% CI: 26.5–29.5), TP ovarian cancer cases (OR: 50.4; 95% CI: 27.2–93.2), and FN ovarian cancer cases (OR: 59.3; 95% CI: 19.7–178.1). The mean duration that pelvic fluid was present for women with TN screens was 2.2 ± 0.05 encounters, lasting 38.7 ± 1.3 months. In an asymptomatic screening population, free fluid identified in TVS exams was more associated with ovarian malignancy than in the control group or benign ovarian tumors. While pelvic free fluid may not solely discriminate malignancy from non-malignancy, it appears to be clinically relevant and warrants thoughtful consideration.

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Published in Diagnostics, v. 12, issue 1, 144.

© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was partially funded by the National Cancer Institute (grant number: T32 CA160003).

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The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to the concern for infringement on research subjects’ privacy.