Adolescent endometriosis typically presents as stage I with superficial peritoneal disease and less commonly as stage III or IV with deeply infiltrative disease. Endometriosis lesions can be destroyed (cautery or laser), cutting out the discrete lesion with excision and destroyed, or radically excised with removal of the lesion and surrounding tissue. It has been shown to be beneficial to excise deeply infiltrative disease to improve pain. Radical excision has been promoted by a subset of surgeons and involves removal of large areas of peritoneum with the promise/proposal of a cure and suggestion of no need for medical suppression of endometriosis. The best technique to manage superficial peritoneal disease has not yet been defined.
A 15-year-old young woman with a history of 2 previous laparoscopies for pain and an ovarian cyst who underwent removal of a mucinous cystadenoma, presented to a local gynecologist with chronic pelvic pain. She underwent a third laparoscopy and was found to have superficial peritoneal endometriosis and filmy adhesions believed to be due to the previous ovarian surgery. The endometriosis was surgically destroyed with the use of cautery and the filmy adhesions were lysed. Months later she had a return of pain and was advised to have a fourth laparoscopy with radical excision by an “excisionalist” gynecologist. She was found to have superficial peritoneal disease with ASRM-defined stage I endometriosis and underwent radical excision of the peritoneum of the anterior cul de sac, posterior cul de sac, and both pelvic side walls. She was informed that she had been cured of her endometriosis and was thus not treated with postoperative hormonal suppression. Her pain did not improve and in fact worsened after the radical excisional surgery. She self-referred for care. She started menstrual suppression treatment with continuous estrogen/progestin therapy for medical treatment of endometriosis but after 6 months she was still having severe pain without bleeding. Eight months after the radical excisional surgery she elected to have a fifth laparoscopy to address potential adhesions. At that time she was found to have extensive pelvic adhesions with the uterus adherent to the anterior cul de sac, and adhesions in the posterior cul de sac. In addition, both ovaries were involved with adhesions and adherent to the pelvic side walls. She was found to have clear and red lesions of superficial peritoneal endometriosis. She underwent a lysis of adhesions, and excision of lesions, and destruction of endometriosis. Her pain improved postoperatively; menstrual suppression was continued and she has remained with a continued excellent quality of life with over 2 years of follow-up.
Summary and Conclusion
For this patient, radical excisional surgery resulted in increased pain and extensive adhesion formation. It was not curative because endometriosis was documented on follow-up surgery. In a previously published long-term follow-up report of adolescents with recurrent pain 2-10 years after destruction of superficial peritoneal disease, it was reported that there were no increased adhesions and no trend toward disease progression. Excisional gynecologists who perform this procedure should not suggest that radical excisional surgery is helpful and without increased risk, until studies have shown long-term benefit in the surgical management of superficial peritoneal endometriosis.
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Published online: January 29, 2019
Dr Laufer is the Director of the Boston Center for Endometriosis, which receives funding from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. He is also on the International Advisory Board of AbbVie Pharmaceuticals. Dr Einarsson indicates no conflicts of interest.
This work was presented in part at the 13th World Congress on Endometriosis, May 2017, Vancouver, Canada.
© 2019 North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. Published by Elsevier Inc.