The role of transvaginal sonography and endometrial biopsy in the evaluation of peri- and postmenopausal bleeding

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1997 Jul;169(1):145-9. doi: 10.2214/ajr.169.1.9207515.


Objective: The number of women seeking medical attention for peri- and postmenopausal bleeding (PMB) has been increasing. Determining the cause of PMB is essential in planning appropriate therapy. In these women, transvaginal sonography (TVS) is a sensitive means for diagnosing the causes of such bleeding, yet endometrial biopsy (EMB) is still preferred as the first diagnostic test. We prospectively compared TVS with aspiration biopsies of the endometrium in the examination of women with PMB.

Subjects and methods: Between mid April 1994 and December 1995, 329 consecutive perimenopausal women underwent EMB. Of these EMBs 302 had negative results. We prospectively obtained TVS in 259 of these 302 women within 1 month of EMB (range, 10 days to 2 months) when the results of biopsy were negative. Forty-three patients were lost to follow-up. In 59 women who had endometrial thickening greater than 5 mm, dilatation and curettage, hysteroscopy, or hysterectomy was performed. Ninety-four of the 130 women who were found at TVS to have fibromyomata or diffusely enlarged uteri underwent hysterectomy for pathologic confirmation. The remaining 36 women with fibromyomata or diffusely enlarged uteri had no pathologic confirmation of their TVS findings. Twenty-one of 64 women with endometria thinner than 5 mm underwent dilatation and curettage, and 43 of these women were lost to follow-up.

Results: In 259 patients who underwent TVS, 57 patients who had an endometrium thicker than 5 mm and an endoluminal mass on hysterosonography had false-negative results on aspiration biopsies. Of the 18 patients who had malignancies in this series, 12 had false-negative results on biopsies. In the 94 patients with an enlarged uterus and negative EMB results who underwent hysterectomy, we found 87 with fibroids, three with adenomyosis, and four with sarcomas. Of the 64 women with endometria thinner than 5 mm seen on TVS, 21 had negative results from dilatation and curettage.

Conclusion: EMB alone is not sufficient for screening women for PMB. TVS appears to be more sensitive than is EMB for the detection of abnormalities, particularly those outside the endometrium. For these reasons, TVS should be the initial screening test when examining women with PMB.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Needle*
  • Endometrium / pathology*
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause*
  • Premenopause*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging*
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / complications
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Uterus / diagnostic imaging*