Acute pelvic inflammatory disease: associations of clinical and laboratory findings with laparoscopic findings

Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Feb;89(2):184-92. doi: 10.1016/S0029-7844(96)00429-2.


Objective: To assess the relation of clinical variables and laboratory data to pelvic laparoscopic observations of tubal occlusion, adnexal adhesions, and peritoneal exudate in women with acute salpingitis.

Methods: Clinical and laboratory evaluations were performed systematically before laparoscopy in 155 women with suspected acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), 82% of whom proved to have acute salpingitis confirmed with laparoscopy. Laparoscopic findings were scored in three categories (tubal patency, adhesions, and exudate.)

Results: Two general categories of laparoscopic findings were present: 1) tubal occlusion and moderate to severe adhesions in 30 women, and 2) pelvic-abdominal exudate in 27 women. In the remaining 16 women, these laparoscopic findings occurred alone or in other combinations. Among women with acute salpingitis, tubal occlusion was associated positively with older age, palpable adnexal mass, and moderate to severe pelvic adhesions; negative associations were found with abdominal rebound tenderness, mean abdominal-pelvic tenderness score, pelvic-abdominal exudate, and isolation of either Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis. Moderate or severe pelvic adhesions were associated positively with increased duration of abdominal pain (5 versus 3 days) compared with limited or no pelvic adhesions, but they were associated negatively with mean abdominal-pelvic tenderness score and with pelvic-abdominal exudate (47% versus 73%). Free exudate in the pelvis or abdomen as compared with limited or no exudate was associated positively with abdominal rebound tenderness (86% versus 65%), abdominal-pelvic tenderness score, elevated white blood cell count (83% versus 52%), and recovery of N gonorrhoeae (79% versus 57%). Free exudate was associated negatively with the median duration of pain (3 versus 6 days), oral contraceptive use (4% versus 26%), and palpable adnexal mass (7% versus 25%). Analyses limited to women without a history of PID gave similar results.

Conclusions: Although clinical and laboratory criteria traditionally used to judge the clinical severity of acute PID partially predict the degree of tubal or other pelvic abnormalities among women with acute salpingitis and tend to distinguish those with tubal occlusion or moderate to severe adhesions from those with peritonitis, these criteria have low predictive value and are not reliable in the individual patient.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Exudates and Transudates
  • Fallopian Tube Diseases / complications
  • Fallopian Tube Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease / complications*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tissue Adhesions