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New Way Found to Diagnose Endometriosis
Date:8/20/2009

Less invasive test focuses on nerve fibers, researchers say,,

THURSDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- A new test for endometriosis, the painful gynecologic condition that can impair fertility, requires no surgery and is extremely accurate, two studies show.

However, other experts said the accuracy of the new approach, which spots the telltale presence of nerve fibers, needs to be replicated, which the researchers also acknowledged.

Until now, a diagnosis of endometriosis -- in which the tissue that lines the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside the uterus -- was made by inspection of the pelvis via laparoscopy, a procedure that requires anesthesia.

"Laparoscopy is invasive," said Dr. Thomas D'Hooghe, a professor of medicine at Leuven University in Belgium and co-author of one of the studies. "Our test is semi-invasive -- office-based, done by a gynecologist, limited discomfort."

Both studies were published online Aug. 19 in the journal Human Reproduction.

The condition affects about 5.5 million women and girls in the United States and Canada, according to the Endometriosis Association. The tissue that grows outside the uterus develops into growths or lesions that respond to the menstrual cycle in the way the uterine lining does, building and breaking down each month.

But the blood and tissue shed from these growths can't leave the body as menstrual blood does, so internal bleeding, pain, inflammation and infertility can result.

The cause is unknown, and the severity of the condition and the level of pain and other symptoms don't always correlate, experts said.

To do the new test, physicians take a small sample of the lining of the uterus by inserting the device used for taking an endometrial biopsy through the vagina. Then they test the sample for the presence of nerve fibers.

This enables them to determine whether or not endometriosis is pre
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