Endometriosis is a chronic and often painful condition that affects many people. One way to diagnose endometriosis is with an ultrasound, which can help your doctor identify most abnormalities in the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or abdomen and pelvis. Read on to learn more about this diagnostic tool and how it can help you better understand your endometriosis.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. This tissue can grow on or near the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, rectum, or other organs. Symptoms of endometriosis include pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and infertility. Most commonly experienced by women during their reproductive years, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 women have endometriosis.
How Can Ultrasound Help?
An ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging test that uses sound waves to create an image of organs or tissues inside your body. An ultrasound may help diagnose abnormalities in your uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other organs resulting from endometriosis. Using Ultrasound, doctors can get images of these organs and look for signs of abnormal growth or other issues associated with endometriosis. Doctors might suggest transvaginal Ultrasound if they need a better vision of some specific area.
In some cases, such as suspected ovarian cysts—which are prevalent with endometriosis—your doctor may also order additional tests, such as a blood test. These tests measure cancer markers and hormone levels to determine whether they are high. Your doctor might also need an MRI scan if necessary.
What Are the Benefits of Ultrasound for Endometriosis?
Ultrasounds are invaluable tools for diagnosing issues related to endometriosis. That is because ultrasounds are quick and noninvasive procedures that allow doctors to see what’s happening inside your body without resorting to surgery or other invasive measures. Additionally, ultrasounds can provide valuable information about the severity of the condition and allow doctors to develop a treatment plan tailored specifically for you based on those results.
What Are the Downsides of Ultrasound for Endometriosis?
A significant downside to Ultrasound is that it is highly operator dependent and requires high skills. This skill dependence means that if your operator has ample experience, they can detect lesions that another operator with less experience might miss. However, some deep endometriosis lesions are invisible in Ultrasound and seem normal even when an expert performs it. These lesions are mostly deep lesions with less visible abnormal mass. Therefore, a negative ultrasound test could be a false negative.
All in all, ultrasounds are valuable diagnostic tools for diagnosing endometriosis and other conditions related to reproductive health. They offer detailed images without the need for invasive procedures. Therefore they can provide valuable insight into the severity of the situation so you and your doctor can devise an individualized treatment plan together. However, it has downsides of being operator dependent and unable to detect some endometriosis lesions. If you suspect you have endometriosis or another reproductive health issue, talk with your doctor about whether an ultrasound could help them make an accurate diagnosis sooner rather than later.