Pelvic pain is a common symptom experienced by many women. It can be caused by a variety of conditions, including endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts, and uterine fibroids, among others.
This article explores:
- Why accurate diagnosis can be challenging
- Various testing methods to find the cause
- The benefits and downside of laparoscopy
- The role gene sequencing and artificial intelligence can play
Whether you or someone you know is experiencing pelvic pain, you can find out more here.
Diagnosing pelvic pain
Accurately diagnosing the cause of pelvic pain take an average of 7 years. But seeking expert support and getting the right medical investigations performed could help you reach a diagnosis sooner.
There are several reasons why diagnosing pelvic pain can be challenging. One reason is that the pelvic region contains many organs and structures, such as the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum. Pain in any of these organs or structures can cause pelvic pain, and it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact location and cause of the pain.
Another reason why diagnosing pelvic pain can be challenging is that the available diagnostic tools are not always reliable. Ultrasound is a common imaging test used to diagnose pelvic pain, but it can miss the cause of the pain in 20-40% of cases, even when performed by experts. MRI is another imaging test that can be used to diagnose pelvic pain, but it is also not 100% reliable and can miss the cause of pain in some cases.
What is a laparoscopy?
Laparoscopy is considered the gold standard test to diagnose endometriosis, which is a common cause of pelvic pain. Laparoscopy is an invasive procedure that involves making small incisions in the abdomen and inserting a camera and other surgical instruments to examine the pelvic organs. While laparoscopy is a more reliable diagnostic tool for endometriosis, it is also an invasive procedure that carries a small risk of complications, including bleeding, infection, and injury to surrounding organs. There is also a rare risk of death associated with laparoscopy, estimated to be between 5-8 per 10,000 procedures.
Despite the risks, laparoscopy has a diagnostic accuracy of 90%, which means it can still miss the cause of pain in 10% of cases. This is because endometriosis is a microscopic condition that can be difficult to see during laparoscopy. Not all endometriotic lesions are coloured, making them difficult to detect during the procedure.
Are there other ways to diagnose pelvic pain?
To address the challenges of accurately diagnosing pelvic pain, researchers are exploring new diagnostic tools and techniques. One promising area of research is gene sequencing, which involves analysing a person’s DNA to look for genetic mutations or changes that may be associated with certain conditions. Gene sequencing has shown promise in diagnosing endometriosis, with a diagnostic accuracy of 99%. The available test at the moment is called as Ziwig Endo Test.
Another promising development in diagnostic testing for pelvic pain is the use of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is a type of technology that uses algorithms and machine learning to analyse large amounts of data and identify patterns and trends. Researchers are exploring the use of AI in analysing imaging studies and other diagnostic tests to improve the accuracy of diagnosis and reduce the risk of misdiagnosis.
In addition to advances in diagnostic testing, there is also a growing emphasis on the importance of a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to treating pelvic pain. This approach involves collaborating with specialists in gynaecology, urology, gastroenterology, and pain management to address the complex nature of pelvic pain and develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
In conclusion, diagnosing pelvic pain can be a challenging and complex process. The available diagnostic tools are not always reliable, and even the gold standard test of laparoscopy carries a small risk of complications and can still miss the cause of pain in some cases.
However, there are promising developments in gene sequencing and AI that may improve the accuracy of diagnosis and reduce the risk of misdiagnosis.
A comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to treating pelvic pain is also essential to addressing the complex nature of the condition.
Speak with London Medical
If you’re struggling with symptoms that you think might be related to endometriosis or you are experiencing pelvic pain, don’t hesitate to get in contact with our experts in women’s health at London Medical.