Age-related differences in the sonographic characteristics of endometriomas

Stefano Guerriero, Ben Van Calster, Edgardo Somigliana, Silvia Ajossa, Wouter Froyman, Bavo De Cock, An Coosemans, Daniela Fischerová, Caroline Van Holsbeke, Juan Luis Alcazar, Antonia C. Testa, Lil Valentin, Tom Bourne, Dirk Timmerman

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28 Citations (SciVal)


Study Question Do sonographic characteristics of ovarian endometriomas vary with age in premenopausal women? Summary Answer With increasing age, multilocular cysts and cysts with papillations and other solid components become more common whereas ground glass echogenicity of cyst fluid becomes less common. What is Known Already Expectant or medical management of women with endometriomas is now accepted. Therefore, the accuracy of non-invasive diagnosis of these cysts is pivotal. A clinically relevant question is whether the sonographic characteristics of ovarian endometriomas are the same irrespective of the age of the woman. Study Design, Size, Duration This is a secondary analysis of cross-sectional data in the International Ovarian Tumor Analysis (IOTA) database. The database contains clinical and ultrasound information collected pre-operatively between 1999 and 2012 from 5914 patients with adnexal masses in 24 ultrasound centres in 10 countries. Participants/Materials, Setting, Methods There were 1005 histologically confirmed endometriomas in adult premenopausal patients found in the database and these were used in our analysis. The following ultrasound variables (defined using IOTA terminology) were used to describe the ultrasound appearance of the endometriomas: tender mass at ultrasound, largest diameter of lesion, tumour type (unilocular, unilocular-solid, multilocular, multilocular-solid, solid), echogenicity of cyst content, presence of papillations, number of papillations, height (mm) of largest papillation, presence and proportion of solid tissue and number of cyst locules, as well as vascularity in papillations and colour content of the tumour scan (colour score) on colour or power Doppler ultrasounds. Results are reported as median difference or odds ratio (OR) per 10 years increase in age. Main Results and the Role of Chance Maximal lesion diameter did not vary substantially with age (+1.3 mm difference per 10 years increase in age, 95% confidence interval (CI)-1.4 to 4.0). Tender mass at scan was less common in the older the woman (OR 0.75, 95% CI 0.63-0.89), as were unilocular cysts relative to multilocular cysts (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.57-0.85) and to lesions with solid components (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.48-0.77), and ground glass echogenicity relative to homogeneous low-level echogenicity (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.58-0.94) and other types of echogenicity of cyst contents (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.50-0.81). Papillations were more common the older the woman (OR 1.65, 95% CI 1.24-2.21), but their height and vascularization showed no clear relation to age. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION It is a limitation that we have little clinical information on the women included, e.g. previous surgery or medical treatment for endometriosis. It is important to emphasize that we do not know the age of the endometrioma itself and that our study is not longitudinal and so does not describe changes in endometriomas over time. The differences in the ultrasound appearance of endometriomas between women of different ages might be explained by previous surgery or medical treatment and might not be an effect of age per se. Wider Implications of the Findings Awareness of physicians that the ultrasound appearance of endometriomas differs between women of different ages may facilitate a correct diagnosis of endometrioma. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S) This study was supported in part by the Regione Autonoma della Sardegna (project code CPR-24750). B.V.C., A.C. and D.T. are supported by the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders, Belgium (FWO). The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1723-1731
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine


  • age
  • diagnosis
  • Ovarian endometrioma
  • sonographic characteristics
  • ultrasound


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