Your Health: Diagnosing endometriosis early

Your Health: Diagnosing endometriosis early
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Endometriosis impacts about one out of every 10 women in the United States, but the disease is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether.

New European guidelines could help doctors identify it earlier.

Susie Veech was living with heavy periods and painful cramping for more than eight years and she didn’t trust what doctors told her. She said doctors said she had ovarian cysts and they couldn’t do anything.

Eventually, Veech found a doctor who correctly diagnosed her with endometriosis -- a condition that happens when tissue similar to the lining of a woman’s uterus grows outside the uterus. Doctors typically use special laparoscopic instruments to look inside the patient and spot the disease, but cases that aren’t “classic” may be overlooked.

“There are many, many other types and they are not as obvious,” said Dr. Kevin Audlin. “That is actually one of the things that we are trying to improve upon is detection rates.”

Now, scientists in Europe have proposed new guidelines that could improve those detection rates. The new recommendations support imaging techniques like ultrasound and MRI for diagnosis in some cases, instead of only laparoscopy. Experts said diagnosing it without the need for a procedure every time could lead to a quicker diagnosis and treatment plan. Something patients like Veech would appreciate.

“I think it’s really important to ask the questions and get the diagnosis and don’t give up if two or three or four doctors tell you we can’t do anything.” Veech said.

Experts said the European guidelines can act as a blueprint for endometriosis care in the U.S. Patients typically receive a diagnosis of endometriosis eight to 12 years after symptoms start.

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