Endometriosis guidelines from Europe could help doctors with early detection

Published: June 30, 2022 1:04 PM EDT
Updated: June 30, 2022 4:41 PM EDT

Endometriosis affects about one out of every ten women in the United States. But the disease is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether. Now, new European guidelines could help doctors identify endometriosis 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. Doctors told her, “They’re just ovarian cysts, we can’t do anything.”

Finally, Susie 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 endometriosis” may be overlooked.

“There are many, many other types of endometriosis, and they are not as obvious. So, that is actually one of the things that we are trying to improve upon is detection rates.” Says Kevin Audlin, MD, FACOG, Gynecologist at Mercy Medical Center.

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 say diagnosing endometriosis without the need for a procedure like laparoscopy every time could lead to a quicker diagnosis and treatment plan. Something patients like Susie 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 says.

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