STATE COLLEGE, Pa., June 15 (UPI) -- Surgery is required for a doctor to confirm a woman has endometriosis, though scientists think a blood test may prove to be effective at diagnosing patients without cutting them open.
Measuring women's lipid profiles may allow doctors to diagnose the often painful condition with a blood test, according to studies with mice conducted by scientists at Penn State University.
Endometriosis, which affects about five million women in the United States, is characterized by tissue lining the uterus growing outside the uterus as though it were there, thickening, breaking down and bleeding with each menstrual cycle. The tissue remains in the body, however, and can cause other health problems including the growth of abnormal tissue binding other organs together.
Previous research, including one study in 2010, has suggested endometriosis is related to changes in lipid metabolism, suggesting a measure of blood lipid levels would prevent laparoscpic surgery to confirm the condition in patients.
For the new study, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, the scientists performed a metabolomics analysis on blood samples from two groups of mice, one with the condition and one without it.
After measuring for dysregulated lipids in the blood, including phosphatidylcholines, shingomyelins and triglycerides, the scientists found higher levels of several lipids in the blood of mice with the condition than those without it.
"Although further work would be needed to validate the results in humans, the study suggests that a simple blood test along with other clinical indicators could potentially be used to diagnose the disease," the scientists said in a press release.