More than six million American women and girls struggle with endometriosis, a chronic condition that causes pain before and after their periods. It can also cause infertility. In some cases, endometriosis is difficult to diagnose, but a new imaging method may shed light on difficult to detect cases.
Twenty-eight year old Susie Veech has spent more than half her life in the kitchen. She’s a food service consultant and a budding caterer.
Susie also spent more than half her life trying to figure out the source of the monthly, searing pain in her side. Veech told Ivanhoe, “Eleven, on a scale of one to 10, the pain.”
Veech had endometriosis. The tissue normally lining the inside of her uterus was also growing on the outside and blocking other organs.
Gynecologist and co-director of the Endometriosis Center and the Minimally Invasive Surgical fellowship program at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Kevin Audlin, MD, is studying a new imaging technique designed to help gynecologists detect endometriosis. Traditionally, doctors use a minimally-invasive tool called a laparoscope to look for tissue.
“Full spectrum light looks just as if we would see. If you’re looking into a belly, you’ll see organs, most everything is either a yellowish or a pink,” Dr. Audlin explained.
In addition, Dr. Audlin is testing special lighting called narrow band imaging. When he presses a button on the laparoscope, the light changes, making endometriosis stand out.
Dr. Audlin said, “The red hue tends to be the endometriosis, the green we see tends to be the actual vasculature.”
For Veech, finally a diagnosis followed by a procedure to keep the endometriosis at bay. She said, “When everyday pain goes away, you have tons of energy. You don’t realize how much it’s weighing you down.”
In a study of 150 women undergoing the laparoscopic procedure for endometriosis, researchers found the addition of narrow band imaging improved detection by 20 percent. Dr. Audlin says the narrow band imaging offers another avenue for women who have had chronic pain but are not showing signs of endometriosis with traditional screening.
To read the research summary, click here.