BY DEAN PAPPAS M.D.
Endometriosis is an uncomfortable condition in which pieces of the uterine tissue grow outside of the uterus, and attach to other areas, such as the fallopian tubes or ovaries. There are different types of endometriosis, as the condition can occur in different parts of the body.
In some cases, endometrial tissue grows on or inside the intestines. This is referred to as colorectal endometriosis. Here, our Long Island, NY team discusses colorectal endometriosis treatment. We may first recommend a colonoscopy to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, or we may recommend surgery to diagnose and treat the condition.
Can a Colonoscopy Help Diagnose Colorectal Endometriosis?
Colorectal endometriosis can mimic the symptoms of other common diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer, and Crohn’s disease. Unfortunately, this means that many cases of colorectal endometriosis are misdiagnosed.
Usually, one of the first recommendations is a colonoscopy, which scopes the inside of the bowels. However, because endometriosis often occurs on the outside of the intestines, lesions may go unnoticed. However, it is important that patients receive a colonoscopy to help rule out other health concerns.
If, after undergoing preliminary diagnostic testing, there is still a suspicion of colorectal endometriosis, laparoscopic surgery can be utilized to obtain a definitive diagnosis.
Colorectal Endometriosis Statistics
Approximately one-third of all women with endometriosis will develop uterine tissue on their bowels. In most cases, the condition is present just above the rectum, in the lower part of the intestine.
This form of endometriosis may also be accompanied by rectovaginal endometriosis, which affects the rectum and the vagina. It is not uncommon for those with colorectal endometriosis to also have the condition in the ovaries, bladder, or the pouch of Douglas (the space between the cervix and rectum).
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for endometriosis. However, medications and surgical options can alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
For most patients, surgery is the most successful and predictable treatment option. Both laparotomy (one large incision) and laparoscopy (several tiny incisions) can be used to treat the condition.
The type of procedure recommended for you will depend on your specific needs. Surgical options for endometriosis include:
- Segmental bowel resection: For larger areas of endometriosis, a section of the intestines is removed. The two remaining sections are then joined through reanastomosis. Over 50 percent of women who undergo this procedure are able to conceive following the treatment.
- Rectal shaving: Smaller areas of endometriosis can be removed with a procedure called rectal shaving. During this treatment, the endometrium tissue will be removed, and the intestines will be kept intact.
- Disc resection: Ultra-small areas of endometriosis can be removed with disc resection. This involves removing a small portion of the affected tissue, and then closing the hole.
Although hormone therapy will not halt the development of endometriosis, it can alleviate pain and other common symptoms. This type of treatment may include:
- Birth control
- Progestin injections
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to alleviate discomfort and swelling
Contact Our Practice for More Information
If you are experiencing symptoms of colorectal endometriosis, or if you have recently been diagnosed with the condition, it is important to understand your treatment options.
Our team is here to help you every step of the way. To learn more about the treatments offered at the Colon and Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York, schedule a consultation. You can call us at (516) 217-8626 or contact us online anytime.