New research is promising for future diagnostic test for endometriosis – but this test is a long way from being available yet

19 AUGUST 2009

Two papers published today in Human Reproduction describe how the presence of nerve fibres in the lining of the uterus may indicate the presence of endometriosis.

Researchers in Sydney (Australia) [1], Karak (Jordan) [1], and Leuven (Belgium) [2] took small samples of tissue from the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and then tested the samples for nerve fibres.

To ensure their findings were accurate the women also had surgery to look for endometriosis, and in a trial involving 99 women with pelvic pain it accurately identified 63 out of 64 cases with endometriosis – which means that if these nerve fibres are detected in women there is a 91% chance that a woman has endometriosis.

Picture of Professor David Healy
Professor David Healy

David Healy, president-elect of the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) and a board member of the World Endometriosis Society (WES) said:

If other researchers can confirm this test, this might become the standard way of diagnosing endometriosis. This would mean that the condition could be identified earlier, which could give real benefits for women, who may later become infertile due to endometriosis.

In other words: early detection may preserve fertility if correct treatment is commenced promptly.

But, there’s no new diagnostic test yet!

Further – prospective – research is required to validate these findings, and only then will it be possible confirm if indeed a new diagnostic test for endometriosis has arrived.

Therefore, whereas this research is promising towards the development of a less invasive diagnostic test for endometriosis, it is important to emphasise that such a test is not yet validated, and therefore not yet available.

  1. Al-Jefout M, Dezarnaulds G, Cooper M, Tokushige N, Luscome GM, Markham R, Fraser IS. Diagnosis of endometriosis by detection of nerve fibres in an endometrial biopsy: a double blind study. Hum Reprod 2009;24(12):3019-24
  2. Bokor A, Kyama CM, Vercruysse L, Fassbender A, Gevaert O, Vodolazkaia A, De Moor B, Fülöp V, D’Hooghe T. Density of small diameter sensory nerve fibres in endometrium: a semi-invasive diagnostic test for minimal to mild endometriosis. Hum Reprod 2009;24(12):3025-32

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