Endometriosis Glossary of Terms

At New England Center For Pelvic Health we try to give our patients the most complete, up-to-date information possible. We want our patients to have a clear understanding of the medical issues involved in their health care.

The following is a list of terminology used at our site:

This is a condition where some endometrial tissue is deep within the uterine wall.  Women who have had heavy menstrual bleeding along with very painful periods may have varying amounts of adenomyosis. This is a “pathologic diagnosis” requiring removal of the uterus and sampling of the uterine wall for diagnosis.  Methods for targeted treatment of just the endometrial tissue in the iuterine wall are being explored but these are mainly experimental  at this point. 

This is scarring causing two surfaces to stick together. It can be dense fibrous scarring, or thin filmy transparent layers, or two organs that are stuck together. Even though nothing is visible between the organs, the “glue” that holds them to each other is adhesive disease. Post-inflammatory and post-surgical adhesions can often be divided. With endometriosis, the endometriosis can be within the adhesions. Therefore, when excising endometriosis it may be helpful to take the adhesions along with the specimen. When two structures are densely stuck together, (such as bladder to uterus, uterus to rectum, or ovary to pelvic sidewall) it may indicate invasive endometriosis.

The lower portion of the uterine wall that sits at the top of the vagina. It is from the cervix that the Pap smear swab is taken. The cervix is what must open during giving birth.

Endometrial Hyperplasia
This is a build up of the uterine lining with the uterine cavity. “Hyper” refers to excessive, and “plasia” means cell growth.

Endometrial Polyp 

These are small and large growths of the endometrium in the uterine cavity. Polyps are usually benign. They can cause abnormal bleeding and possibly interfere with fertility.

This is a condition where endometrium type tissue is found outside the uterus. (“Metri” means uterus, “endo” refers to the lining inside the uterus, “osis” – a medical condition). These patients can have painful menstrual periods, painful sexual intercourse, and chronic pelvic pain. Learn more about Laparoscopic Excision of Endometriosis.

Endometriosis Excision
With this approach, the plan is for endometriosis to be removed. Specimens are examined to confirm the diagnosis and the sites involved. Excision can be accomplished with harmonic scalpel, laser, or electrical energy.  Laparoscopy may be performed with our without use of the surgical robot.

Endometriosis Fulguration/Cautery
With this approach, attempts are made to destroy or burn endometriosis lesions with electrical energy.  Specimen may or may not be obtained.

This is the inside lining of the uterus. “Metri” means uterus, and “endo” refers to the inside lining. This is the tissue that responds to the ovarian hormones and bleeds. The blood, endometrial tissue and debris that come out through the uterus, cervix, and vagina each month is the menstrual flow.

This is the surgical removal of the uterus. “Hyster” means uterus, and “ectomy” means to remove. This procedure can be total (removing uterus and cervix) or partial/supracervical (the patient keeps her cervix). Total hysterectomy can be done by open laparotomy, vaginally, or laparoscopy. Partial or supracervical hysterectomy can be done by open laparotomy or laparoscopy. Learn more about Laparoscopic Hysterectomy.

This is a procedure for visualizing inside the uterus. “Hyster” means uterus, and “scopy” refers to a fiberoptic instrument. It is a tube with a fiberoptic light that slides through the vagina, cervix, and into the uterine cavity.  The hysteroscope can visualize 100% of the uterine cavity. Learn more about Laparoscopic Hysterectomy.

This is a procedure for visualizing the inside of the abdomen and pelvis. “Laparo-” means abdomen, and “-scopy” refers to a fiberoptic instrument. Under general anesthesia, as an outpatient, the abdominal cavity is distended with gas. A tube with a fiberoptic light is inserted through the umbilicus. An inspection usually requires three incisions. Learn more about Laparoscopy of Endometriosis.

This is a medication that temporarily takes the female hormone estrogen out of the patient’s system. The hope is that the estrogen withdrawal will deprive endometriosis of estrogen it needs to grow. 

This is when the ovaries eventually exhaust their supply of eggs and female hormones. This will eventually occur in all woman, even if both ovaries are present. The average age for menopause is 51-52 years old.

This is the surgical removal of one or more fibroid tumors and repair of the uterine wall. “Myo” means muscle, and “ectomy” means to remove. Depending on the location of the fibroid, this can be approached with hysteroscopy or laparoscopy. Learn more about Laparoscopic Myomectomy.

This is removal of the ovary.

Ovarian Cystectomy
This is the removal of an ovarian cyst (fluid-filled collection) from the ovary and then conserving the ovary.

These are the two (left and right) glands inside the lower abdomen that contain the eggs and produce the hormones. Each ovary has all the eggs and hormones that a person will produce.

This is the tube that transports urine from the kidneys down to the bladder.

This refers to mobilizing the ureter so that it can stay safely away from the disease process being excised. 

Uterine cavity/Endometrial Cavity
This is the space inside the uterus where the pregnancy develops and the uterine lining is located.

Uterine Fibroid
This is a muscle tumor of the uterine wall. It is not fibrous. The uterine wall is muscle and can often develop muscle tumors. These are also called myomas. “Myo” means muscle, and “oma” means new growth or tumor. These are usually benign. There is a less than half of one percent chance of a fibroid becoming cancerous. Learn more about Uterine Fibriods and Uterine Bleeding.

Thick walled muscular organ for carrying the fetus during pregnancy. Menstrual bleeding comes from the inside lining of the uterus. Learn more about Uterine Fibriods and Uterine Bleeding.

The channel through which the menstrual flow is allowed to exit the body. This is also the birth canal.

This is the tissues at the opening of the vagina. (i.e. labia majora and minora, clitoris, etc)

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