As a patient, you may already know that endometriosis is not just a painful condition of the uterus. It is an abnormal tissue growth similar to the endometrium that can occur in other body parts. One such place is the thoracic cavity, the space in your chest containing your heart, lungs, and other vital organs. Endometriosis in the thoracic cavity is called thoracic endometriosis.
Thoracic endometriosis is not a common condition, but it can be serious. It can cause chest pain and shortness of breath and, in severe cases, can lead to lung collapse. If you have been experiencing unexplained chest pain or breathing difficulties, this may be caused by thoracic endometriosis. In this blog, we will explain what thoracic endometriosis is, what causes it, and how it can be treated.
What is thoracic endometriosis?
As mentioned earlier, thoracic endometriosis is when endometriosis tissue grows in the thoracic cavity. This tissue can grow on your lungs, diaphragm, chest wall, or any other part of your thoracic cavity. In severe cases, it can even cause the lung to collapse.
Thoracic endometriosis can cause a range of symptoms, which include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough
What causes thoracic endometriosis?
The exact cause of thoracic endometriosis is still unknown. However, there are several theories that suggest it may be caused by:
- The coelomic metaplasia theory suggests that endometriosis cells can develop from germ cells in the thoracic cavity.
- The lymphovascular spread theory suggests that the endometrial cells can latch onto lymph nodes or vessels, which then transport them to the thoracic cavity.
- The retrograde menstruation theory refers to the backward flow of menstrual blood through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity. But it can not explain how the cells reach the thoracic space from the pelvic cavity.
How can thoracic endometriosis be treated?
The treatment of thoracic endometriosis will depend on the severity of your condition, your symptoms, and other factors such as age and desire for future fertility.
Here are some common treatments for thoracic endometriosis:
- Palliative therapy:
Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve mild to moderate pain.
Hormonal therapy: Hormone therapy can help reduce the amount of estrogen in your body, slowing down the growth of endometrial tissue. Hormone therapy can include birth control pills, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, progestins, or danazol.
- Removing the lesions with excision surgery
Surgery may be necessary if your thoracic endometriosis is severe or causing significant symptoms. Surgery can help remove the endometriosis tissue, repair any damage it may have caused, and restore normal lung function.
Thoracic endometriosis is a rare but serious condition that can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seeking medical attention right away is important. Although the exact cause of thoracic endometriosis is still unknown, various treatment options are available to help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Remember to speak to your doctor about any concerns about thoracic endometriosis.