In a second study, researchers from Australia and Jordan took endometrial samples from 99 women presenting with pelvic pain or infertility, or both, who had undergone laparoscopy. They compared the laparoscopy and biopsy results. In 64 women who had endometriosis confirmed by laparoscopy, all but one tested positive for the presence of nerve fibers in the biopsy.
In the 35 women who did not have endometriosis diagnosed in the laparoscopy, no nerve fibers were found in 29 of the biopsies.
The new research builds on previous work, said study co-author Dr. Moamar Al-Jefout, an assistant professor of reproductive medicine at Mu'tah University in Karak, Jordan. That research, led by Dr. Ian Fraser in Australia, found that "women with endometriosis have nerve fibers in the functional layer of the endometrial, while women without endometriosis have no nerve fibers," Al-Jefout said.
Other experts lauded the results, but also had some caveats. "This test is [still] semi-invasive," said Mary Lou Ballweg, a spokeswoman for the Endometriosis Association. The biopsy procedure can be painful, she added.
Another expert, Dr. Pamela Stratton, chief of the gynecology consult service for the National Institutes of Health, who does endometriosis research, called the new studies "provocative."
"This is a very novel way of thinking about this," she said. "Everyone has been focusing on the lesions themselves."
Still, she said, more research is needed. "Its clinical usefulness isn't really known yet," she said of the new approach.
"Let's say the
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