Browse Category: Endometrial Polyps

Fusion defects. Endometrial Polyps

Fusion defects include unicornuate uterus (AFS class II), uterus didelphys (AFS class III), bicornuate uterus (AFS class IV), and septate uterus (class V).

A unicornuate uterus has a single hemi-uterus that is attached to its fallopian tube. It may also be associated with a rudimentary cavity from the contralateral side. A didelphys uterus has two uterine cavities, and each has a separate cervix. The fundus of the uterus also has a deep cleft between the cavities. A bicornuate uterus has a single cervix, a heart-shaped fundus, and two uterine cavities separated by myometrium. Conversely, a septate uterus has a single cervix, a flat fundus, and two uterine cavities separated by relatively avascular scar tissue.

Two clinically relevant points for fusion defects are:
In a woman with a unicornuate uterus, a rudimentary horn can result in pain because of obstruction orretrograde flow, either of which may cause endometriosis or be a site of infection.
Fusion defects may be associated with reproductive problems, from recurrent miscarriage to premature labor. The incidence of these problems is uncertain, however, because in women who have had only uncomplicated pregnancies, anomalies may never have been noted.
Among patients with AFS class I to IV uterine anomalies, there is an increased incidence of renal anomalies, usually renal agenesis ipsilateral to the associated hypoplastic mullerian defect. Therefore, a search for uterine anomalies should be conducted in patients with renal agenesis, and pelvic pain, or reproductive dysfunction.

Advances in the Treatment of Endometrial Polyps

Endometrial polyps are benign tumors consisting of surface endometrium, fibrous stroma, and thick-walled, centrally positioned blood vessels. A clonal rearrangement of chromosome 6p21 is common in the mesenchymal (stroma) cells in the polyp. The endometrial cells do not have the chromosome 6 rearrangement. One possible explanation of these findings is that an endometrial polyp begins when a stromal cell undergoes a rearrangement in chromosome 6p21 resulting in an abnormal signal to grow. The stromal elements proliferate and bring the endometrial glands along as “innocent bystanders.”

Most endometrial polyps are solitary. In approximately 20% of cases multiple polyps are present. Polyps peak between ages 40 and 50 years, but many cases occur in menopausal women. In fewer than 1% of cases, polyps are associated with cancer. The usual presenting symptom is intermenstrual bleeding or menometrorrhagia.

Polyps are typically diagnosed by sonography (especially sensitive in the follicular phase), saline infusion hysterosonography, hysterosalpingography, hysteroscopy, or curettage. Curettage often fails to remove endometrial polyps because of the mobility of their body and tip. In menopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy who have abnormal uterine bleeding, polyps are commonly found by hysteroscopy. Multiple case reports indicate that tamoxifen treatment may stimulate the development and growth of endometrial polyps.

Other Benign Uterine Disorders

Adenofibromas are benign tumors of epithelium and stroma that contain fewer that 4 mitoses per 10 high-power fields. Women with adenofibromas usually are elderly. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most frequent presentation.

Uterine Conservation at the Time of Adnexal Removal

In women who desire future childbearing, every effort should be made to preserve ovarian tissue unless a cancer diagnosis necessitates the removal of both ovaries. Occasionally, the clinician is confronted with a large benign ovarian cyst and must decide whether to remove the entire ovary or perform a cystectomy. If the woman has a desire for more children, an effort should be made to perform a cystectomy and to leave as much ovarian tissue as possible.

For some conditions, both ovaries require surgical removal. The clinician then is confronted with the issue of uterine conservation. If the woman has clearly and consistently communicated that she has no interest in further pregnancies and does not desire to retain her uterus, the uterus can be removed. If the woman has clearly expressed an interest in future childbearing, the uterus may be left in place so she may be able to become pregnant through oocyte or embryo donation.

Congenital Anomalies. Endometrial Polyps

The uterus is formed from the paired mullerian ducts during embryogenesis. Uterine anomalies result from their defective migration, fusion, or absorption during embryonic life. The incidence of anomalies is difficult to estimate because many congenital anomalies do not result in clinical manifestations (Rock and Jones, 1977). Patients with symptomatic mullerian anomalies usually have signs of menstrual outflow obstruction or reproductive dysfunction. Diagnostic methods for determining the exact nature of a mullerian anomaly have evolved from bimanual examination, postpartum manual exploration, and D & C, to the more sophisticated techniques of hysterography, laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, ultrasonography, and MRI. Increased capacity of the latter techniques to yield complete information will undoubtedly be reflected in a higher reported incidence of the more subtle anomalies.

Retrospective studies reveal that approximately 25% of women with congenital uterine anomalies encounter re- productive difficulties, although conception rates are not different than they are among women in control groups (Abramovici et al, 1983; Harger, 1983). Spontaneous abortions, premature births, and fetal malpresentations are common in women with congenital uterine anomalies.

Anomalies can be classified as problems with hypoplasia or agenesis (American Fertility Society [AFS] class I) or as fusion defects (AFS classes II-V). Class I anomalies, also referred to as mullerian anomalies, usually are diagnosed in women who seek treatment for primary amenorrhea or for an inability to have vaginal intercourse. These defects are thought to occur developmentally when the mullerian structures fail to join with the structures arising from the vaginal bulb. There is a wide spectrum of defects ranging from isolated vaginal agenesis to hypoplasia of the vagina, cervix, ileus, and tubes.

Clinically important points of these anomalies include:

  1. In patients with complete mullerian agenesis, the possibility of complete androgen insensitivity (testicular feminization syndrome) should be considered because these women have Y chromosomes and must have their gonads removed because there is a high risk for neoplasia.
  2. The patient with an absent vagina can have one that is adequate for intercourse created through the use of progressive dilators or surgery.

Endometrial Polyps

Endometrial polyps are hyperplastic overgrowths of glands and stroma that are localized and that form a projection above the surface. Such polyps may be sessile or pedunculated and rarely include foci of neoplastic growth.

The prevalence of polyps has been estimated at 10% to 24% among women undergoing endometrial biopsy or hysterectomy. Endometrial polyps are rare among women younger than 20 years of age. The incidence of these polyps rises steadily with increasing age, peaks in the fifth decade of life, and gradually declines after menopause.

The most common symptom in women with endometrial polyps is metrorrhagia, or irregular bleeding; it is reported in 50% of symptomatic patients. Postmenstrual spotting is also common. Less common symptoms include menorrhagia, postmenopausal bleeding, and breakthrough bleeding during hormonal therapy. Overall, endometrial polyps account for 25% of abnormal bleeding in premenopausal and postmenopausal women (Van Bogaert, 1988).

Endometrial polyps can sometimes be seen prolapsing through the cervix. Often they are diagnosed by microscopic examination of a specimen obtained after dilatation and curettage (D & C) or after endometrial biopsy. As is the case with submucous fibroids, polyps can escape detection if the uterus is not distended. Increasingly these lesions are diagnosed by modalities such as ultrasonography and hysteroscopy.

Endometrial polyps usually are cured by thorough curettage. However, polyps or other structural abnormalities may be missed by blind curettage, and hysteroscopic-guided curettage is often useful.

Uterine anomalies may be congenital or they may be acquired after infection or mechanical trauma, and they may lead to reproductive or menstrual dysfunction.