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Diagnostic Tests for Endometriosis

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 6/30/2009

This article focuses on the diagnostic tests that are used to diagnose endometriosis.

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    Endometriosis is a medical condition in which uterine tissue begins to grow outside of the uterus. In many cases, endometriosis presents no symptoms in the early stages so diagnosis can be difficult. There are a few diagnostic tests for endometriosis. These tests are designed to give a definitive diagnosis..

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    Physical Exam

    The first diagnostic testing method used to diagnose endometriosis is a physical exam. During this exam the doctor will ask the patient about their symptoms, about their menstrual period and about their family medical history. Next, the doctor will assess the patients vital signs to determine their overall health.

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    Pelvic Exam

    A pelvic exam is typically done on the same day as the physical exam. The pelvic exam allows the doctor to check for any abnormalities in the pelvic region. During this exam the doctor will look at the uterus, rectum, vagina, bladder, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The doctor will specifically be looking for any changes on the size of shape of these organs. This diagnostic test for endometriosis also allows the doctor to rule out some other conditions that may present similar symptoms.

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    Laparoscopy

    During this procedure a small incision is made near the belly button and a laparoscope is inserted. The laparoscope allows the doctor to see into the pelvic and abdominal areas. Since they are able to see these areas they will be able to see if any uterine tissue has misplaced itself outside of the uterus. This procedure is the most common and most accurate diagnostic test for endometriosis. During this diagnostic test the doctor may also be able to destroy any misplaced uterine tissue by burning it with laser or electrical energy. They may also elect to cut out the misplaced tissue with traditional surgical techniques using surgical scissors and knives.

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    Imaging

    Imaging technology such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT scan) may also be used as a diagnostic test for endometriosis. Imaging is often used to gain a better picture of the extent of the disease in cases that are considered severe. Imaging cannot definitively diagnose endometriosis, but they can rule out other conditions and help doctors better assess the patients situation.

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    Resources

    University of Rochester Medical Center. (2009). How is Endometriosis Diagnosed? Retrieved on June 30, 2009 from Website: http://www.stronghealth.com/services/womenshealth/gynecology/endometdiag.cfm

    Wrong Diagnosis. (2009). Diagnostic Tests for Endometriosis. Retrieved on June 30, 2009 from Website: http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/e/endometriosis/tests.htm