BACKGROUND Endometriosis associated with pain symptoms in adolescents has been extensively reported, but the exact prevalence is unclear because pain symptoms may be atypical and endometriosis can only be diagnosed by laparoscopy. The aim of this paper is to provide a systematic review of the prevalence of endometriosis diagnosed by laparoscopy in adolescents. METHODS A systematic literature search was carried out for relevant articles published between 1980 and 2011 in the databases PUBMED and EMBASE, based on the keywords 'endometriosis', 'laparoscopy', 'adolescents' and 'chronic pelvic pain (CPP)'. In addition, the reference lists of the selected articles were examined. RESULTS Based on 15 selected studies, the overall prevalence of visually confirmed endometriosis was 62% (543/880; range 25-100%) in all adolescent girls undergoing laparoscopic investigation, 75% (237/314) in girls with CPP resistant to treatment, 70% (102/146) in girls with dysmenorrhea and 49% (204/420) in girls with CPP that is not necessarily resistant to treatment. Among the adolescent girls with endometriosis, the overall prevalence of American Society of Reproductive Medicine classified moderate-severe endometriosis was 32% (82/259) in all girls, 16% (17/108) in girls with CPP resistant to treatment, 29% (21/74) in girls with dysmenorrhea and 57% (44/77) in girls with CPP that is not necessarily resistant to treatment. Due to the quality of the included papers an overestimation of the prevalence and/or severity of endometriosis is possible. CONCLUSIONS About two-thirds of adolescent girls with CPP or dysmenorrhea have laparoscopic evidence of endometriosis. About one-third of these adolescents with endometriosis have moderate-severe disease. The value of early detection of endometriosis in symptomatic adolescents and the indications for laparoscopic investigation in adolescents require more research.
Keywords: adolescent; dysmenorrhea; endometriosis; laparoscopy; pelvic pain.