Examination – Endometriosis

Tenderness with palpation

Tenderness can be due to pelvic floor muscular dysfunction and/or to lesion location (Yamamoto, Carillo, & Howard, 2014). Particularly tenderness is noted in the rectovaginal area, bladder, and close to the uterosacral ligaments in many patients with endometriosis (Nourmoussavi, Bodmer‐Roy, Mui, Mawji, Williams, Allaire, & Yong, 2014; Yamamoto, Carillo, & Howard, 2014; Williams et al., 2016). If this patient had been sexually active, the symptom of dyspareunia might also have been described. In addition to the contributory causes of inflammation, muscular dysfunction, and adhesions, Williams et al. (2016) also describe increased nerve bundle density noted in endometriosis patients with dyspareunia. This could also cause pain upon pelvic examination.

Diagnostic laparoscopic findings

Glands and stroma in the pelvic cavity

Endometriosis is diagnosed by the visualization and preferably the histological confirmation of endometrial glands and/or stroma outside of the uterus (Cristescu, Velişcu, Marinescu, Pătraşcu, Traşcă, & Pop, 2013). Visually, endometriosis can vary from the clear, white, red, tan, and black colorations that may be very small to blister like formations to polypoid masses (Kondi-Pafitis, 2012). Kondi-Pafitis (2012) describes the histological presentation as “one or more endometrioid glands surrounded by stromal cells, resembling the endometrial stromal cells of the proliferative phase…. consistent with inactive or irregular proliferative endometrium, although typical proliferative or secretory changes may be observed” (p. 106). Kondi-Pafitis (2012) also notes that inflammatory cells and fibrosis may be present. An older study, but worth noting, performed by Demco (2000) utilized patients under conscious sedation to perform pain mapping of the lesions. The study found that the different colored lesions produced different amounts of pain, that the pain extended beyond the visible border of the lesion, and that palpation of the endometriotic lesions produced “cramps” (Demco, 2000). This information is important in understanding the symptomology and in treating the disease.

Endometrial polyp

As noted previously, endometrial polyps are frequently seen with endometriosis (Wang, Zhang, & Liu, 2016; Zheng, Mao, Zhao, Zhao, Wei, & Liu, 2015). Estrogen driven proliferation of tissue is seen in endometrial polyps as well as endometriosis (Zheng, Mao, Zhao, Zhao, Wei, & Liu, 2015).

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