Can Endometriosis Be Seen On Ultrasound?

Can Endometriosis Be Diagnosed By Ultrasound?

While large patches of endometriosis or cysts may be picked up by ultrasound, doctors do not rely on imaging technology to make a diagnosis. Although an ultrasound is part of the initial examination (it can also help to rule out other causes like fibroids), it is not considered sensitive enough to detect endometrial implants or cysts which are smaller than 2cm in size. Also, if implants have spread to other parts of the body, these will invariably be overlooked. Scientists still haven't invented a test which can reliably diagnosis the presence of endometriosis without an internal visual examination (laparoscopy). While other imaging techniques like MRI scan, CT scan and sonographys or blood tests may be used, a laparoscopy is still always necessary.

What Happens During The Ultrasound?

Typically a transvaginal scan will be performed to check for signs of endometriosis. You will be asked to lie down on a table and place your feet in stirrups provided. A wand-shaped probe called a transducer will be inserted into the vagina. The probe is covered with a condom and smeared with gel to ease insertion. Once inserted it sends images back to a nearby screen which the health care provider can monitor for signs of endometriosis or other possible causes of your symptoms such as ovarian cysts or fibroids. If you would like to read more about the diagnostic procedure, see endometriosis diagnosis. Or if you would like to know more about what can go wrong in the reproductive area, see female reproductive disorders.

Personal Stories

I was 17 when I was diagnosed with endometriosis. They did an ultrasound which revealed my right ovary was attached to my womb. I screamed so much when the doctor touched it. He said I could have endometriosis, but I still needed to have laparoscopy surgery to check for sure. Turns out I did. I was more worried than anything that I was going to be infertile. This is a few years later, and I’ve had 3 kids without IVF treatment. However my gyno says I should have a hysterectomy when I’ve decided I’ve definitely finished having children. Not sure about that really, it’s a serious operation and they seem to like rushing women into it. We’ll see.
Cyndi, Florida

I was suffering for years before finally being diagnosed with endometriosis. I had shooting pains in my legs and chronic lower back pain and symptoms were worse around time of the month. My doctors thought I had kidney stones so they performed a cystoscopy and CAT scan, but found nothing except a minor bladder infection. The pain continued, had another CAT scan and a KUB x-ray (kidney-ureter-bladder). Eventually they thought to check for endometriosis and sent me for a laparoscopy. Turns out I did have it, and it had spread to parts that would have been missed by an ultrasound. I’m getting treatment for endometriosis now and finally feeling like I’m getting my life back.
Hazel, Birmingham

Related Questions
• Long Term Risks: Can endometriosis lead to cancer?
• Infertility and Pregnancy: Can endometriosis cause a miscarriage?
• Stages and Progression: What are the stages of endometriosis?
• Researching the Cause: Causes of endometriosis.
• Symptoms and Signs: Can endometriosis cause missed periods?

• Need more information? See: Guide to Endometriosis
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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