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|Why It Takes So Long To Diagnose Endometriosis
As endometriosis has no characteristic symptoms or obvious physical signs, it may be mistaken for other conditions such as:
Women thought the symptoms were normal
Women were told their symptoms were normal
The Pill or Temporary Pregnancy Relief
False Scan Results
Endometriosis Diagnosis: 3 Steps
Unless endometriosis is discovered by chance when testing for another condition, usually the diagnosis process begins with a pelvic exam. This can be carried out by your family doctor or a gynecologist. Before your appointment it is useful to make some notes on the specifics of your pain:
• Does pain occur during/after sexual intercourse?
Suspicious signs which may alert a physician to the presence of endometriosis in a routine pelvic exam include:
• Pelvic nodules and tenderness.
Imaging tests or scans may be used to identify individual endometrial lesions. The most common types are transvaginal scan and MRI scans. While these scans may be able to identify cysts/lesions on the ovary, they are not able to determine the nature of the cyst, nor distinguish it from any other cyst or condition, such as ovarian cysts. Also, smaller endometriosis cysts or implants may be missed as currently ultrasound machines are not sensitive enough to detect cysts smaller than 2cm in size. Additionally, if endometriosis exists in another part of the body, this will invariably be overlooked.
As of today, there is still no test available which can reliably diagnosis the presence of endometriosis without an internal examination (laparoscopy). Neither MRI, CT scans, sonographys nor blood tests can be accurate in this regard. Recently there has been some talk of a new non-invasive test for endometriosis involving detecting nerve fibers in the endometrium of women with endometriosis. This research is still not conclusive or available on the market.
The diagnosis of endometriosis can only be reliably confirmed by looking inside the pelvic region by an exploratory laparoscopy. This is a minor surgery usually carried out under general anesthesia. First the abdomen is inflated with gas through a small incision near the belly button. Then a small camera device with a light (laparoscope) is inserted through the navel. The surgeon views the internal organs on a TV screen. Also known as keyhole surgery this is one of the least invasive types of surgery available. Yet, even with exploratory surgery the lesions may be mistaken for those associated with another condition such as ovarian cysts or fibroids. For an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis, small biopsy samples should be obtained during the laparoscopy procedure. These biopsies when studied under a microscope may also show the presence of endometrial implants which are still too small for the naked eye to have observed. Read also, what are the stages of endometriosis?
Next: Endometriosis Treatment
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