Transvaginal ultrasonography and hysteroscopy in the diagnosis of endometrial abnormalities

A E Mortakis, K Mavrelos
Journal of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists 1997, 4 (4): 449-52

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To investigate the value of transvaginal ultrasonography, aspiration biopsy, and hysteroscopy combined with curettage or directed biopsy in detecting endometrial pathology in women with abnormal uterine bleeding.

DESIGN: Prospective, nonrandomized study.

SETTING: A university-affiliated hospital.

PATIENTS: One hundred twenty-two premenopausal and 78 postmenopausal women with abnormal uterine bleeding.

INTERVENTIONS: The women underwent transvaginal ultrasonography (TVS) combined with aspiration Pipelle biopsy. They were scheduled for hysteroscopy and endometrial sampling by curettage or directed biopsy within 4 weeks.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Ultrasonographic findings were evaluated on the basis of final diagnoses established by hysteroscopy and histologic examination. The endometrium was measured at its thickest part in the longitudinal plane. In premenopausal women, endometrial thickness was measured during the early proliferative phase of the cycle. Ultrasound examination was considered negative if single-layer thickness was less than 5 mm in the absence of endometrial projections. In all other cases it was classified as positive. For postmenopausal women the cutoff point was 4 mm (single layer). In postmenopausal women with endometrial thickness less than 4 mm, as well as in premenopausal patients with negative TVS, the combination of TVS and aspiration biopsy missed only one case of atypical hyperplasia. In premenopausal patients TVS clearly detected 73% of polyps and myomata, permitting diagnostic and surgical hysteroscopy to be performed at the same time. In postmenopausal women with endometrial thickness 4 mm or greater, aspiration biopsy failed to detect two cases of atypical hyperplasia and one of focal adenocarcinoma. Pipelle sampling was technically infeasible in a woman with endometrial cancer because of a stenotic cervix. It also missed the majority of benign lesions (polyps and myomas).

CONCLUSIONS: Transvaginal ultrasound seems to be an excellent initial diagnostic method, with high sensitivity in diagnosing endometrial abnormalities. Its combination with aspiration biopsy seems to be safe in women with a thin endometrium. Hysteroscopy is necessary in postmenopausal women with an endometrium of 4 mm or more, as well as in premenopausal patients with endometrial thickness more than 5 mm (preovulatory phase of the cycle) and in those with suspected polyps or myomas.

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