Mercy Robotic Surgery
Endometriosis is a medical condition where the tissue that normally grows within the lining of your uterus grows outside the uterus and can be found throughout, and even outside, the pelvic cavity.
Risk Factors and Symptoms
In addition to a family history of endometriosis, risk factors for developing the condition include:
- short menstrual cycles
- chronic pelvic infection
- never giving birth
Symptoms of endometriosis can include:
- premenstrual spotting
- severe menstrual pain and cramping
- heavy clotting during menses
- pelvic pain
- painful sexual intercourse
- pain with exercise
- painful, frequent urination
To diagnose endometriosis your gynecologist will review your family history, discuss your symptoms and then perform a pelvic exam. If your doctor feels a mass during the pelvic exam he or she may perform, or schedule you for, further tests to evaluate the mass. Those tests can include:
- a transvaginal ultrasound - your gynecologist, radiologist or trained technician will gently insert a wandlike instrument into your cervix which sends sound waves that echo and create pictures of your uterus. The image can be viewed on a computer monitor. Your doctor or technician will move the ultrasound instrument around to view the mass more closely.
- CT (computed tomography) scan - during this procedure a radiology technologist programs a large circular-shaped scanner so that it moves painlessly over your body as you lie on an exam table. You will need to remain very still and you may hear loud buzzing noises or "clicks" as the scanner sends x-rays through the area of your body that your doctor wants to study. If your doctor orders a contrast study a nurse will insert a small IV in your arm to deliver a harmless dye to your pelvic area. The contrast dye will help any masses in your pelvic area be easier to visualize. The CT images are compiled on a computer which your doctor can then review. The exam should only take 15-30 minutes. Following the exam the IV will be removed and you can resume your normal activities. If you had a contrast IV you should drink a lot of fluid to help flush it out of your system.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan - during this procedure you will be slowly and painlessly moved through a machine that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to send digital images of your pelvic area to a computer monitor. You may need to fast for several hours before the test and will need to let the radiologist know if you have an intrauterine device (IUD), have medical allergies, have a fear of confined spaces (if you are not using an open MRI device), if you wear medicine patches, have metal implants or could be pregnant. You will wear a hospital gown for the procedure and may hear loud “tapping” noises. You will be asked to hold your breath for a few moments while the radiologist captures specific images. The test may take only 15-30 minutes but the entire appointment may take up to an hour. There are normally no side effects and you can resume your normal daily activities after the appointment.
The only way to make a 100% positive diagnosis of endometriosis is to visually see the growth during surgery. However if you your gynecologist suspects endometriosis he or she may recommend one or more treatment options including:
- over the counter pain medication
- hormone therapy – to regulate or block the hormones produced during your menstrual cycle that cause endometrial swelling
- surgery - endometrial resection or hysterectomy