Histopathological extent of rectal invasion by rectovaginal endometriosis

Hum Reprod. 2003 Jun;18(6):1323-7. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deg251.


Background: We aimed to evaluate the microscopic extent of endometriosis in surgical en-bloc specimens of vaginal skin, rectovaginal septum, cul-de-sac, and part of the rectosigmoid bowel.

Methods: From December, 1997 to October, 2001, 50 patients with the trias of intestinal pain, palpable disease in the rectovaginal septum, and laparoscopic diagnosis of endometriosis of the cul-de-sac and/or rectosigmoid colon underwent combined laparoscopic-vaginal en-bloc resection of the cul-de-sac with partial resection of the posterior vaginal wall and rectum with reanastomosis by minilaparotomy. All surgical specimens were histopathologically evaluated in a standardized fashion.

Results: The mean length of the bowel specimen was 7.48 cm. Endometriosis involved the serosa and muscularis propria in all patients, the submucosa in 17 patients (34%), and the mucosa in five patients (10%). After a mean follow-up of 32 months, 90% of patients reported a considerable improvement or were completely free of symptoms and the rate of recurrence was 4% (two patients).

Conclusions: Partial bowel resection indicates the depth and multifocality of endometriosis affecting the recto-sigmoid colon. Such extensive surgery appears justified by the extent of the lesions and the long-term relief of symptoms achieved.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colon, Sigmoid / pathology
  • Endometriosis / pathology*
  • Endometriosis / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology
  • Rectal Diseases / pathology*
  • Rectal Diseases / surgery
  • Rectum / pathology*
  • Sigmoid Diseases / pathology
  • Sigmoid Diseases / surgery
  • Vaginal Diseases / pathology*
  • Vaginal Diseases / surgery