Diagnosis of Endometriosis

Related Media: Diagnostic Pelvic Laparoscopy

The doctor will ask you about your symptoms, take a medical and family history, and perform a pelvic exam. If your family history, medical history, and/or medical examination support the possibility of endometriosis, your doctor may want to do additional studies to determine whether you have endometriosis.

There are differing approaches. The first is to determine the diagnosis and severity of the endometriosis before beginning therapy. In contrast, those practicing the modern approach advocate a therapeutic trial in patients who are deemed likely to have endometriosis, without requiring surgical confirmation. The latter is most often used when the patient’s primary symptom is pain, and there is no immediate desire for fertility.

If your doctor suspects you have endometriosis, the following tests may be ordered:

Ultrasound—Transvaginal ultrasound appears to be a useful test to both make and to exclude the diagnosis of an ovarian endometrioma (growth of endometriosis and old blood within the ovary).

MRI scan—An MRI uses magnetic waves and computers to make pictures of the pelvic area. It can make 2-dimensional and .

3D transvaginal sonography (3DTVS)—

Laparoscopy —A laparoscope is a small telescope that is inserted into your abdomen through small cuts made on your lower abdomen. This brings light into the abdomen and the doctor can then see inside. A small video camera can project images from inside your abdomen onto a video screen. This process allows for the detection of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. The size, number, and location of this tissue can then be determined. This is a minor surgical procedure done on an outpatient basis under anesthesia.

Biopsy —A biopsy is a small sample of tissue that is taken to test for the presence of a disease. Tissue samples are taken when a laparoscopy is performed. These tissue samples are then viewed under the microscope for features associated with endometriosis.

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References:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Practice bulletin no. 114: management of endometriosis. Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Jul;116(1):223-36, reaffirmed 2018
Endometriosis. ACOG website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Endometriosis. Updated January 2019. Accessed November 2, 2019.
Endometriosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/endometriosis . Updated August 30, 2019. Accessed November 2, 2019.
Endometriosis. US HHS Office on Women's Health website. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis. Updated April 1, 2019. Accessed November 2, 2019.
Levine EM, et al: Deep Infiltrating Endometriosis: Making the Diagnosis. J Diagn Med Sonogr 2019;35(4):1-3.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Elliot Levine, MD
Last Updated: 11/6/2019

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