Objectives: The specific aims of this study were (1) to describe the microbiologic characteristics of patients with acute salpingitis and (2) to determine the incidence of bacterial vaginosis in patients with acute salpingitis and whether bacterial vaginosis microorganisms were common upper-genital-tract isolates in these patients.
Study design: Women with pelvic inflammatory disease underwent laparoscopy to confirm the diagnosis of acute salpingitis and for culture of the fallopian tubes and cul-de-sac. Endometrial and minute fimbrial biopsies were performed, and specimens were evaluated for evidence of inflammation. Bacterial vaginosis was diagnosed by vaginal Gram stain.
Results: Eighty-four patients had visually confirmed acute salpingitis. Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis was isolated from 65 (77.4%) patients. Vaginal microorganisms were isolated from the endometrium in 16 (31.4%) of 51 cases and from the cul-de-sac in 12 (14.3%) of 84 cases. Bacterial vaginosis was present in 61.8% of patients with acute salpingitis, and 100% of anaerobes isolated from the upper genital tract of patients with acute salpingitis were bacterial vaginosis microorganisms. These anaerobes were isolated from the upper genital tract in the absence of a concurrent gonococcal, chlamydial, or Haemophilus influenzae infection in only two cases.
Conclusions: The initiation of acute salpingitis is predominantly due to the ascending spread of sexually transmitted microorganisms. Bacterial vaginosis is a common concurrent disorder of women with acute salpingitis, and bacterial vaginosis microorganisms are commonly isolated from the upper genital tracts of patients with pelvic inflammatory disease.