Prevalence of tubo-ovarian abscess in adolescents diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease in a pediatric emergency department

Cynthia J Mollen, Jonathan R Pletcher, Richard D Bellah, Jane M Lavelle
Pediatric Emergency Care 2006, 22 (9): 621-5

OBJECTIVES: The rate of tubo-ovarian abscess (TOA) in adolescents with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is reported to range from 17% to 20%. However, no reports have focused specifically on the adolescent patient presenting to the emergency department (ED), regardless of whether they are treated in the inpatient or outpatient setting. Recent changes in the 2002 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for the Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and sexually transmitted infection screening programs are likely to have impacted both the prevalence of PID and the rates of its complications, particularly TOA. Given that most patients with PID are treated as outpatients, it is imperative to accurately assess the prevalence of TOA in this population. Therefore, we sought to determine the rate of TOA in female adolescents diagnosed with PID in a large urban pediatric ED.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective medical record review to assess the prevalence of TOA in adolescents diagnosed with PID in the ED by an attending physician in pediatric emergency medicine. All cases were identified on the basis of the clinical criteria from the 2002 CDC Guidelines for the Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Data collected included historical and physical examination findings, and laboratory and radiological imaging results.

RESULTS: Three (2.4%; 95% confidence interval, 0.5-6.7) of 127 patients diagnosed with PID in the ED who had imaging or clinical follow-up were also found to have a TOA. The mean age of the patients was 16 years. Most patients (89%) had imaging studies performed within 24 hours; most of these studies (97%) were pelvic ultrasounds. Eleven patients did not have imaging but had clinical follow-up within 72 hours. Four patients were diagnosed with PID during the study period and were lost to follow-up.

CONCLUSION: The rate of TOA in adolescents diagnosed with PID in an urban pediatric ED is much lower than the rates previously reported in adolescents. This lower prevalence may be attributed to the broader 2002 CDC guidelines for diagnosing PID. In addition, community-based screening programs for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae may help to identify young women at risk for developing PID earlier in the course of infection.

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