Introduction: The preoperative evaluation for endometriosis – more than meets the eye
It is well known that it often takes 6-10 years for endometriosis to be diagnosed in patients who have the disease, depending on where the patient lives. I certainly am not surprised. During my residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital, if a patient had chronic pelvic pain and no fibroids, her diagnosis was usually pelvic inflammatory disease. Later, during my fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at the University of Pennsylvania, the diagnosis became endometriosis.
As I gained more interest and expertise in the treatment of endometriosis, I became aware of several articles concluding that if a woman sought treatment for chronic pelvic pain with an internist, the diagnosis would be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); with a urologist, it would be interstitial cystitis; and with a gynecologist, endometriosis. Moreover, there is an increased propensity for IBS and IC in patients with endometriosis. There also is an increased risk of small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), as noted by our guest author for this latest installment of the Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery, Iris Orbuch, MD.
Like our guest author, I have also noted increased risk of pelvic floor myalgia. Dr. Orbuch clearly outlines why this occurs. In fact, we can now understand why many patients have multiple pelvic pain–inducing issues compounding their pain secondary to endometriosis and leading to remodeling of the central nervous system. Therefore, it certainly makes sense to follow Dr. Orbuch’s recommendation for a multidisciplinary pre- and postsurgical approach “to downregulate the pain generators.”
Dr. Orbuch is a minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon in Los Angeles who specializes in the treatment of patients diagnosed with endometriosis. Dr. Orbuch serves on the Board of Directors of the Foundation of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists and has served as the chair of the AAGL’s Special Interest Group on Endometriosis and Reproductive Surgery. She is the coauthor of the book “Beating Endo – How to Reclaim Your Life From Endometriosis” (New York: HarperCollins; 2019). The book is written for patients but addresses many issues discussed in this installment of the Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery.
Dr. Miller, MD, FACOG, is professor of obstetrics and gynecology, department of clinical sciences, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago. He has no conflicts of interest to report.