Value of sonography in the diagnosis of abnormal vaginal bleeding

J Clin Ultrasound. 2004 Sep;32(7):348-53. doi: 10.1002/jcu.20049.


Abnormal vaginal bleeding is one of the most common presenting complaints in women of any age seeking gynecologic health care. Two of the most frequently used diagnostic tests to investigate the cause of the bleeding are endometrial biopsy and transvaginal sonography. The most worrisome cause of abnormal bleeding is endometrial carcinoma, yet benign etiologies are far more prevalent, including fibroids, polyps, and endometrial atrophy. Endometrial biopsy and transvaginal sonography have equal sensitivities for carcinoma, but sonography is far more effective in diagnosing benign disease. This article reviews the state-of-the-art in the diagnostic evaluation of abnormal vaginal bleeding and analyzes the data, with emphasis on the prevalence of benign and malignant disease as the basis for determining whether sonography or biopsy is more cost-effective in evaluating women with abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia / diagnostic imaging
  • Endometrium / diagnostic imaging*
  • Endometrium / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Polyps / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography / economics*
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging*
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging