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1 September 2009
New endo test is quick, accurate

The journal Human Reproduction reports that an international scientific team has developed a fast and accurate test for endometriosis that does not require surgery. Until now there has been no way of accurately diagnosing endometriosis apart from laparoscopy and this often leads to women waiting in pain for years before their condition is identified correctly and treated.

Researchers at the University of Sydney and Mu'tah University in Jordan have discovered that if they take a small sample of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), which can be done by inserting the device for taking the biopsy via the vagina, and then test for the presence of nerve fibers in the sample, they can diagnose whether or not endometriosis is present with nearly 100 percent accuracy.

"This study has shown that testing for nerve fibres in endometrial biopsies is a valid and highly accurate diagnostic test for endometriosis. This test is probably as accurate as assessment via laparoscopy, the current gold standard, especially as it is unclear how often endometriosis is overlooked, even by experienced gynecologists. Endometrial biopsy is clearly less invasive than laparoscopy, and this test could help to reduce the current lengthy delay in diagnosis of the condition, as well as allowing more effective planning for formal surgical or long-term medical management. It may be particularly helpful in cases of infertility," explained Mu'tah University's Dr Al-Jefout.

Currently, diagnosing endometriosis via laparoscopy involves the patient being booked into hospital for the surgical procedure, an anesthetic, and the presence of doctors, nurses and expensive equipment. In some countries there are long waiting lists for operations. In contrast, taking an endometrial biopsy is relatively quick and easy to organize and perform, and results are available within about three days.

Dr Al-Jefout said the new test could be particularly useful in teenagers with spasmodic symptoms and a family history of endometriosis. "The usual diagnostic delay in this special group is greater than in older women. An endometrial biopsy to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of endometriosis will help initiating earlier treatment and possibly preventing the progress of endometriosis," he said.

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Source: European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

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