What tests are done to diagnose endometriosis?

What are the tests done for the diagnosis of endometriosis?
Although there is a lack of good non-invasive tests to diagnose endometriosis, there are several tests, which can help in the diagnosis of the condition. Some of these tests include MRI, ultrasound, CA125 blood test, and in some cases colonoscopy.

Last Updated on January 17, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

Unfortunately, there is a lack of any good noninvasive test to diagnose endometriosis, which ultimately causes a significant delay in the diagnosis. Here, we will learn how endometriosis is diagnosed and whether endometriosis will show in various tests, such as blood tests, colonoscopies, etc. 

How does a doctor diagnoses endometriosis?

Doctors believe that the gold standard to diagnose endometriosis is the visual inspection with the help of a laparoscopy. It is further confirmed by histological examination. There is a limited utility of imaging tests due to a lack of sufficient resolution in identifying adhesions. Lastly, there are no serum markers yet, which can diagnose the condition with ideal sensitivity and specificity. The ideal tests used to diagnose it are biopsy and laparoscopy. In a biopsy, a few cells or tissue is scraped off or taken out and sent to a pathologist to examine the tissues under a microscope. Also, with a laparoscopy, the doctor will make a small cut in the abdomen and insert a thin tube with a light and a camera to look at the tissues in and around the uterus and check for signs of endometrial tissue growth.

Will endometriosis show up in an MRI?

Most likely. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging technology that produces three-dimensional anatomical images in detail. Here, magnetic waves are used to look at organs and tissues inside the body. For endometriosis, doctors ask to get a pelvic MRI. It can capture images of endometrial growths present in the pelvic cavity of the patient. As MRI makes it possible to see deeper into the body than an ultrasound, even deeply infiltrating endometriosis is usually visible. 

Would endometriosis show up on an ultrasound?

Sometimes. Ultrasounds can show some, but not all, types of endometrial tissue. This procedure uses high-frequency sound waves to view your reproductive organs. During a transvaginal ultrasound, an ultrasound scanning wand, called a transducer, is put into your vagina and moved across your belly to see the uterus, pelvic area and reproductive organs. This test can show large clumps of tissue that are likely signs of endometriosis. However, it can’t show tiny pieces of endometrial tissue or those that are on the surface of an organ. 

Would endometriosis show up in a blood test?

Recently, a test named CA125 test is believed to be helpful in diagnosing endometriosis. CA125 Test is a blood test that checks levels of a blood protein known as CA125, which is a tumor marker for various gynecological cancers. However, researchers found that this specific protein is also present in the blood of women who have endometriosis. A final diagnosis cannot be made solely relying on this test as high levels of CA125 levels are also present during pregnancy, menstruation and in the presence of other non-cancerous gynecologic diseases or cancers.

Would endometriosis show up on a CT scan?

Not exactly. A CT scan of the pelvis does not visualize pelvic organs well. Therefore, this test is not regarded as useful in diagnosing endometriosis.

Would endometriosis show up on a pap smear?

A Pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix (the lower, narrow end of your uterus). A Pap smear is not helpful in detecting endometriosis. However, for people with endometriosis, this procedure can trigger pain and irritation due to a possible inflammation in your pelvis. Usually, a Pap smear is used to diagnose cervical cancer and HPV. 

Would endometriosis show up on a colonoscopy?

Not always. Only a few cases of bowel endometriosis are visible in a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy uses a flexible scope which is used to view the inside of your intestines. Endometriosis can grow into the bowel either by local spread or possibly initial growth or implantation. Colonoscopy is considered to be a very poor tool for diagnosing bowel endometriosis as most bowel endometriosis growths occur on the outside of the bowel and rarely penetrate beyond the bowel’s mucus layer (inner layer). Being an invasive procedure, you should not get colonoscopy routinely in the diagnostic work-up of bowel endometriosis.

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Disclaimer
Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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