Until now there has been no way of accurately diagnosing endometriosis apart from laparoscopy – an invasive surgical procedure – and this often leads to women waiting for years in pain and discomfort before their condition is identified correctly and treated.
Now researchers at the University of Sydney and Mu’tah University in Karak, Jordan, have discovered that if they take a small sample of the endometrium, which can be done by inserting the device for taking the biopsy via the vagina, and then test for the presence of nerve fibres in the sample, they can diagnose whether or not endometriosis is present with nearly 100 percent accuracy.
Endometriosis, which has been estimated to affect 10-15 percent of women of reproductive age, is a chronic gynaecological disease in which cells from the endometrium establish themselves outside the uterus, within a woman’s pelvic area. Symptoms associated with it include infertility, painful periods, pelvic pain and pain during sexual intercourse. Once laparoscopy has identified endometriosis as the cause of these symptoms, treatment involves surgical removal (usually via laparoscopy) of the abnormally sited endometrial cells. However, laparoscopy itself can be associated with complications and can adversely affect fertility in women who do not have endometriosis.
In a separate study another research group from Belgium and Hungary has found that the density of nerve fibres in the endometrium was about 14 times higher in women with endometriosis than in healthy women, and that using specific markers to identify the presence of nerve fibres could predict with nearly 100 percent accuracy the presence of minimal to mild endometriosis.
The study showed that testing endometrial biopsies for the presence of nerve fibres was able to diagnose endometriosis with 83 percent specificity (the proportion of negative cases of endometriosis correctly identified) and 98 percent sensitivity (proportion of positive cases correctly identified). This double blind study confirmed the results of a pilot study published in 2007 by the same group.
MEDICA.de; Source: European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)