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 traditional approach advocates a certain diagnosis and classification of the severity of endometriosis before giving any therapy for possible endometriosis. 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).
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.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The Management of Endometriosis. Practice Bulletin No. 114. July 2010.
Endometriosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 10, 2015. Accessed October 8, 2015.
Farquhar C, Sutton C. The evidence for the management of endometriosis. Curr Opinion in Obstetr Gynecol. 1998;10(4):321-332.
Howard FM. An evidence-based medicine approach to the treatment of endometriosis-associated chronic pelvic pain: placebo-controlled studies. J Am Assoc Gynecol Laparoscopists. 2000;7(4):477-488.
Moore J, Copley S, et al. A systematic review of the accuracy of ultrasound in the diagnosis of endometriosis. Ultrasound in Obstetr Gynecol. 2002;20(6):630-634.
What is endometriosis? Endo-Online website. Available at: http://www.endometriosisassn.org/endo.html. Accessed October 8, 2015.
Wykes CB, Clark TJ, et al. Accuracy of laparoscopy in the diagnosis of endometriosis: a systematic quantitative review. BJOG. 2004;111(11):1204-1212.
Last reviewed September 2015 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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