Ultrasonography-based triage for perimenopausal patients with abnormal uterine bleeding

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Jul;177(1):102-8. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(97)70446-0.


Objective: Abnormal perimenopausal bleeding is common and accounts for much medical and surgical intervention. This study was undertaken to evaluate an ultrasonography-based triage paradigm for perimenopausal patients with abnormal uterine bleeding.

Study design: Four hundred thirty-three perimenopausal patients with abnormal uterine bleeding (either metrorrhagia, menorrhagia, or both) were evaluated. In lieu of undergoing a sampling procedure they were brought back on days 4 to 6 of the subsequent bleeding cycle, when the endometrium was expected to be its thinnest. If a distinct endometrial echo < or = 5 mm (double layer) was imaged by endovaginal ultrasonography, dysfunctional uterine bleeding was diagnosed. If a thickened endometrial echo > 5 mm or no endometrial echo was reliably visualized, a saline infusion sonohysterography was performed. If saline infusion sonohysterography revealed a symmetric single-layer endometrial thickness < 3 mm, dysfunctional uterine bleeding was diagnosed. If focal lesions were noted (polyps, submucous myomas, focal thickening), the patient was scheduled for curettage with hysteroscopy. If the endometrium was globally thickened, nondirected office biopsy was performed.

Results: A total of 341 patients (79%) had ultrasonographic evidence of no anatomic abnormality, and dysfunctional uterine bleeding requiring no further studies was diagnosed. Fifty-eight patients (13%) had focal polypold masses, all of which were removed hysteroscopically and confirmed pathologically. Twenty-two patients (5%) had submucous myomas; 10 patients (23%) had globally thickened endometrium on saline infusion sonohysterography, and then nondirected office sampling revealed hyperplasia in 5 and proliferation in 5. Two patients had technically inadequate saline infusion sonohysterography, and thus we proceeded to hysteroscopy with curettage.

Conclusion: Nondirected office biopsy alone without imaging would have potentially missed the diagnosis of focal lesions such as polyps, submucous myomas, and focal hyperplasia in up to 80 patients (18%). Our clinical algorithm for perimenopausal patients with abnormal uterine bleeding used unenhanced endovaginal ultrasonography followed by saline infusion sonohysterography for selected patients. This approach allowed for no endometrial sampling, nondirected sampling, or directed sampling depending on whether the ultrasonography-based triage revealed no anatomic abnormalities, globally thickened endometrial tissue, or focal abnormalities, respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Biopsy
  • Dilatation and Curettage
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia / diagnosis
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia / diagnostic imaging
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Endometrium / diagnostic imaging
  • Endometrium / pathology
  • Endometrium / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menorrhagia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Menorrhagia / etiology
  • Menorrhagia / therapy
  • Metrorrhagia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Metrorrhagia / etiology
  • Metrorrhagia / therapy
  • Myoma / diagnosis
  • Myoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Myoma / pathology
  • Premenopause / physiology*
  • Triage / methods*
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Ultrasonography / standards