NASHVILLE, TENN. – Biopsy isn’t usually the first step in evaluating the endometrium of a reproductive-age woman who presents with abnormal uterine bleeding, but that’s not always the case, according to James M. Shwayder, MD.
“If we have young women come in, generally speaking, we don’t think much about doing biopsies, but there are those patients who really require a biopsy very early on: If they are obese and if they have long histories of oligomenorrhea ... they are at significantly greater risk for either endometrial hyperplasia or cancer, so in those patients I recommend biopsy very early on,” Dr. Shwayder said in this video interview about his presentation entitled “Modern Evaluation of the Endometrium: When to Use Ultrasound, When to Biopsy,” as presented at the annual clinical and scientific meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Conversely, in some cases when biopsy is typically considered the first-line step in evaluation, ultrasound may actually be better, he argued.
“[ACOG] recommends that women over 45 ... should have a biopsy done as their first-line evaluation. I kind of take issue with that a little bit,” said Dr. Shwayder, a professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, and president and chief executive officer of Shwayder Consulting in Venice, Fla.
Data suggest that a “blind biopsy” could miss up to 18% of cases involving either a submucous myoma or a polyp and that one-third to one-fourth of patients have a structural defect such as a polyp or fibroid that can’t be diagnosed with a biopsy, he explained, noting that sonohysterography is best for preoperative evaluation in such case.
Ultrasound also has utility for evaluating other abnormalities, and it can be a very simple way to evaluate the patient and decide whether they need further evaluation or further treatment, he said.
Dr. Shwayder also discussed evidence for making a choice between biopsy and ultrasound for initial evaluation in postmenopausal women and for assessing women with asymptomatic thickened endometrium.
Dr. Shwayder is a consultant for GE Ultrasound.