Endometriosis is a disorder in which endometrial lesions (patches of endometrial-like tissue) form outside the uterus. Normal endometrial tissue lines the uterus, and swells and sheds during the menstrual cycle every month. However, because they’re located outside of the uterus, endometrial lesions cannot shed properly, which causes inflammation and pain.
What is stomach endometriosis?
Endometrial lesions most commonly occur on the outside of the uterus, in and around the ovaries, and in the abdominal cavity. More rarely (in less than 10% of cases), these patches can occur elsewhere. Gastric endometriosis is when lesions are located in or on the stomach or diaphragm.
Patients with gastric endometriosis generally report symptoms of stomach pain and gastric distress (upset stomach and stomach cramps).
Diagnosis of stomach endometriosis
Stomach endometriosis may be diagnosed by endoscopy, a procedure in which a flexible camera is inserted down the throat into the stomach and duodenum (the portion of the digestive tract that connects the stomach to the small intestine). The camera helps doctors to see the inside of the throat and stomach, and, in some cases, they may collect small samples of lesions during the procedure.
A computerized tomography (CT) scan may also be used to diagnose gastric endometriosis. It may reveal large endometrial lesions as masses. To diagnose these masses as endometriosis, surgery such as a laparoscopy or a laparotomy may be used to remove the mass and determine whether it is endometrial or cancerous.
Small lesions may not be visible by CT or other scans. In these cases, exploratory laparoscopy may be used to visualize the lesions and, if necessary, to remove them.
Treatment of stomach endometriosis
While no cure exists for endometriosis, treatments can help to reduce symptoms. Hormonal therapies can reduce or block the hormones that control the menstrual cycle, preventing the endometrial lesions from swelling and shedding, regardless of their location.
Specific endometrial lesions can be removed surgically. For stomach endometriosis, surgical removal can be challenging, because the lesions may be located within the stomach wall. In these cases, a small portion of the stomach may need to be removed by a procedure called gastrectomy.
Last updated: August 5, 2019
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