What you need to know:
- Endometriosis is a common inflammatory condition affecting one in every 10 women globally. It is associated with painful periods, chronic pelvic pain and infertility.
- Endometriosis happens when the endometrium, tissue that resembles the lining of the womb, sticks to areas outside the uterus, usually in the pelvis, causing pain in the lower abdomen.
A new imaging study could make diagnosing endometriosis quicker, more accurate, and reduce the need for invasive surgery.
The study being done by researchers at the University of Oxford is in its final stages to investigate whether a 20-minute imaging scan can detect the most common types of endometriosis, which currently require surgery to diagnose.
The imaging marker has been used for detecting inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis in other research studies across the world.
Endometriosis is a common inflammatory condition affecting one in every 10 women globally. It is associated with painful periods, chronic pelvic pain and infertility. Endometriosis happens when the endometrium, tissue that resembles the lining of the womb, sticks to areas outside the uterus, usually in the pelvis, causing pain in the lower abdomen.
Diagnosis of the condition often results in multiple emergency visits, multiple scans and often surgery to confirm the diagnosis. As a result, there is always a delay to get a diagnosis of endometriosis.
While it takes time to diagnose, lack of non-invasive tests capable of detecting all endometriosis subtypes (ovarian, superficial, and deep disease) in some facilities makes it worse.
Professor Christian Becker, the co-director of the Endometriosis CaRe Centre in Oxford together with Professor Krina Zondervan, head of department at the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health, University of Oxford, will lead this initial study on women due to have planned surgery for suspected endometriosis.
Two to seven days before their operation, participants will be invited for an imaging scan, which will compare the suspected locations of disease detected on the scan and in surgery to confirm whether this imaging test could be an effective non-invasive method of detecting all endometriosis sub-types.
“The potential strengths of the scan lie in the way the imaging marker binds to areas of inflammation, which may allow doctors to distinguish between new and old lesions and detect endometriosis in areas not easily seen during surgery such as the lung,” says the research.
Prof Becker said: “The development of a 20-minute imaging test would reduce the need for repeated visits to doctors, for repeated investigations, and for invasive surgery to obtain a diagnosis. This would ultimately reduce the time taken to confirm or exclude endometriosis.”
He said there is an urgent unmet clinical need for a non-invasive marker to identify or rule out endometriosis as it is such a very common disease affecting more than 190 million women worldwide’.