Transvaginal sonographic features of diffuse adenomyosis in 18–30-year-old nulligravid women without endometriosis: association with symptoms

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Abstract

Objectives

To investigate whether there are sonographic features of diffuse adenomyosis in 18–30-year-old nulligravid women without endometriosis and to examine their association with symptoms of dysmenorrhea and abnormal uterine bleeding.

Methods

This was a prospective observational study including women referred from a gynecology outpatient center to our university hospital for ultrasound examination. Inclusion criteria were age between 18 and 30 years, regular menstrual cycle and nulligravid status. Exclusion criteria were a past or current history of endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts or lesions, endometrial pathology, current use of hormonal treatments or medications that would affect the menstrual cycle, previous uterine surgery and history of infertility. Women underwent a detailed clinical assessment and a two- (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) transvaginal ultrasound (TVS) examination. 2D-TVS features associated with diffuse adenomyosis were predefined as: (1) heterogeneous myometrium; (2) hypoechoic striation in the myometrium; (3) myometrial anechoic lacunae or cysts; (4) asymmetrical myometrial thickening of the uterine walls with the presence of straight vessels, extending into the hypertrophic myometrium, on power Doppler examination. On 3D-TVS, endomyometrial junctional zone (JZ) was measured as the distance from the basal endometrium to the internal layer of the outer myometrium on coronal section at any level of the uterus, and the smallest (JZmin) and largest (JZmax) JZ thicknesses and their difference (JZdiff) were recorded. 3D-TVS evaluation was considered suggestive for adenomyosis when JZmax ≥ 8 mm and/or JZdiff ≥ 4 mm. The presence of associated symptomatology represented our main outcome: the amount of menstrual loss was assessed by a pictorial blood loss analysis chart (PBAC) and painful symptoms were evaluated using a visual analog scale (VAS).

Results

During the observation period, 205 women (median age, 24 (interquartile range, 23–27) years) were enrolled into the study and 156 met the inclusion criteria. According to the 2D-TVS criteria, diffuse adenomyosis was found in 53 (34.0%) women and asymmetrical myometrial thickening of the uterine walls was the most common sonographic feature observed. ANOVA showed a significant relationship between the number of 2D-TVS features of diffuse adenomyosis and VAS score for dysmenorrhea (P = 0.005) as well as PBAC score for menstrual loss (P = 0.03). 3D-TVS showed that women with 2D-TVS features of diffuse adenomyosis had a significantly higher value of JZmax (6.38 ± 2.30 mm, P < 0.001), JZmin (2.07 ± 0.43 mm, P = 0.002) and JZdiff (4.33 ± 1.99 mm, P < 0.001) than did women without these features. Women with sonographic features of diffuse adenomyosis were symptomatic in 83% of cases, reported dysmenorrhea in 79.2% and showed a higher incidence of heavy bleeding than did those without these features (18.9% vs 2.9%; P = 0.001).

Conclusions

Sonographic features suggestive of diffuse adenomyosis may develop earlier in reproductive life than previously thought, and may occur in association with dysmenorrhea and abnormal uterine bleeding in nulligravid women. Their observation in these women should therefore warrant further gynecological investigation. Copyright © 2015 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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