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Open access

Norah Spears and Andrew W Horne

Open access

Scott C Mackenzie, Catherine A Moakes, W. Colin Duncan, Stephen Tong, and Andrew W Horne

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Open access

Kevin KW Kuan, Aileen R Neilson, Andrew W Horne, and Lucy H R Whitaker

Patients with chronic pelvic pain (CPP) may experience pain exacerbations requiring hospital admissions. Due to the effects of backlogged elective surgeries and outpatient gynaecology appointments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we hypothesised that there would be an increased number of women admitted with CPP flares. We conducted a retrospective review of all acute gynaecology admissions at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh from July to December 2018 (pre-COVID) and 2021 (post-COVID lockdown). We collected information on proportion of emergency admissions due to CPP, inpatient investigations, and subsequent management. Average total indicative hospital inpatient costs for women with CPP were calculated using NHS National Cost Collection data guidance. There was no significant difference in the number of emergency admissions due to pelvic pain before (153/507) and after (160/461) the COVID-19 pandemic. 33% and 31% had a background history of CPP, respectively. Across both timepoints, investigations in women with CPP had low diagnostic yield: <25% had abnormal imaging findings and 0% had positive vaginal swab cultures. Women with CPP received significantly more inpatient morphine, pain team reviews, and were more likely to be discharged with strong opioids. Total yearly inpatient costs were £170,104 and £179,156, in 2018 and 2021 respectively. Overall, emergency admission rates for managing CPP flares was similar before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Inpatient resource use for women with CPP remains high, investigations have low diagnostic yield and frequent instigation of opiates on discharge may risk dependence. Improved community care of CPP is needed to reduce emergency gynaecology resource utilisation.

Open access

Nick Wheelhouse, Sadie Kemp, Jo E B Halliday, Efstathios Alexandros Tingas, W Colin Duncan, and Andrew W Horne

Lay summary

Q fever is a bacterial disease that passes between animals and humans and causes disease in both. The disease has been associated with pregnancy complications including miscarriage. This study was undertaken to identify if Q fever exposure was correlated with miscarriage in 369 women attending a pregnancy support unit in Edinburgh. The women in the study were in two groups, the miscarriage group with 251 women who had experienced a miscarriage and a control group of 118 women who had not experienced miscarriage. Three women were found to be positive for Q fever antibodies, suggesting that they had previously been exposed to the infection and all of them were from the group who had experienced miscarriage. The study indicates that Q fever is relatively rare in women attending an urban Scottish hospital suggesting that the infection is not a major cause of miscarriage in this population. However, as Q fever antibodies could only be found in women within the miscarriage group, it suggests that the infection cannot be ruled out as a potential cause of miscarriage in individual cases.

Open access

Ezekiel O Mecha, Joseph N Njagi, Roselydiah N Makunja, Charles O A Omwandho, Philippa T K Saunders, and Andrew W Horne

Endometriosis has long been wrongly perceived to be rare among women of African descent. The misconception about the prevalence of endometriosis among African women has significantly contributed to long diagnostic delays, limited access to diagnosis and care, and a scarcity of research on the condition among African women. In this commentary, we highlight the prevalence of endometriosis among African women, the state of endometriosis care in Africa, and the gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed. Based on the available data, the prevalence of endometriosis in Africa is likely higher than previously thought, with varying subtypes. There is a long diagnostic delay of endometriosis among African women. Additionally, endometriosis care in Africa from the general population and health practitioners is poor; this can be attributed to the high diagnostic cost, scarcity of trained specialists, as well as patients’ inability to express their symptoms due to societal taboos surrounding menstrual health. Public sensitization on endometriosis may help improve endometriosis diagnosis and care in Africa.

Lay summary

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue like the uterine lining is found outside the uterus, causing women to experience pain especially before, during, or after menstruation. Although endometriosis affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide, it has been wrongly reported that endometriosis is a rare condition among African women, mainly due to lack of awareness among healthcare providers and historical bias. In the current commentary, we discuss the prevalence of endometriosis, the diagnostic delays, and the care of endometriosis among black African women living in the African continent. Much of the literature has demonstrated (falsely) that endometriosis is rare in Black women compared to White ethnicity. African women experience a long diagnostic delay and do not receive appropriate care. Public awareness of endometriosis may help improve diagnosis delay and endometriosis care in Africa.

Open access

Douglas A Gibson, Frances Collins, Bianca De Leo, Andrew W Horne, and Philippa T K Saunders

Endometriosis is a chronic neuroinflammatory pain condition affecting ~180 million women worldwide. Surgical removal or hormonal suppression of endometriosis lesions only relieves pain symptoms in some women and symptomatic relapse following treatment is common. Identifying factors that contribute to pain is key to developing new therapies. We collected peritoneal fluid samples and clinical data from a cohort of women receiving diagnostic laparoscopy for suspected endometriosis (n = 52). Peritoneal fluid immune cells were analysed by flow cytometry and data compared with pain scores determined using the pain domain of the Endometriosis Health Profile Questionnaire (EHP-30) in order to investigate the association between peritoneal immune cells and pain symptoms. Pain scores were not different between women with or without endometriosis, nor did they differ according to disease stage; consistent with a poor association between disease presentation and pain symptoms. However, linear regression and correlation analysis demonstrated that peritoneal macrophage abundance correlated with the severity of pelvic pain. CD14high peritoneal macrophages negatively correlated with pain scores whereas CD14low peritoneal macrophages were positively correlated, independent of diagnostic outcome at laparoscopy. Stratification by pain subtype, rather than endometriosis diagnosis, resulted in the most robust correlation between pain and macrophage adundance. Pain score strongly correlated with CD14high (P = 0.007) and CD14low (P = 0.008) macrophages in patients with non-menstrual pain and also in patients who reported dysmennorhea (CD14high P = 0.021, CD14low P = 0.019) or dysparunia (CD14high P = 0.027, CD14low P = 0.031). These results provide new insight into the association between peritoneal macrophages and pelvic pain which may aid the identification of future therapeutic targets.

Lay summary

Endometriosis is a common condition where cells similar to those that line the womb are found elsewhere in the body. It is associated with inflammation and pain in the pelvis and affects ~180 million women worldwide. Current treatments are not effective for all patients and we, therefore, need to understand what causes pain in order to develop new treatments. We investigated the types of immune cells present within the pelvis of women undergoing investigation for suspected endometriosis. Disease diagnosis and stage (I–IV) was recorded along with pain score determined by questionnaire. We characterised the immune cells present and compared them to disease stage and pain score. We found that pelvic pain was linked to the abundance of immune cells but, surprisingly, not to disease stage. These findings suggest that immune cells are closely associated with pain severity in endometriosis and may be good targets for future endometriosis treatments.

Open access

Elizabeth Ball, Babu Karavadra, Bethany Jade Kremer-Yeatman, Connor Mustard, Kim May Lee, Sharandeep Bhogal, Julie Dodds, Andrew W Horne, John Allotey, and Carol Rivas

Background

Up to 28% of endometriosis patients do not get pain relief from therapeutic laparoscopy but this subgroup is not defined.

Objectives

To identify any prognostic patient-specific factors (such as but not limited to patients’ type or location of endometriosis, sociodemographics and lifestyle) associated with a clinically meaningful reduction in post-surgical pain response to operative laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis.

Search strategy

PubMed, Cochrane and Embase databases were searched from inception to 19 May 2020 without language restrictions. Backward and forward citation tracking was used.

Selection criteria, data collection and analysis:

Cohort studies reporting prognostic factors, along with scores for domains of pain associated with endometriosis before and after surgery, were included. Studies that compared surgeries, or laboratory tests, or outcomes without stratification were excluded. Results were synthesised but variation in study designs and inconsistency of outcome reporting precluded us from doing a meta-analysis.

Main results

Five studies were included. Quality assessment using the Newcastle–Ottawa scale graded three studies as high, one as moderate and one as having a low risk of bias. Four of five included studies separately reported that a relationship exists between more severe endometriosis and stronger pain relief from laparoscopic surgery.

Conclusion

Currently, there are few studies of appropriate quality to answer the research question. We recommend future studies report core outcome sets to enable meta-analysis.

Lay summary

Endometriosis is a painful condition caused by displaced cells from the lining of the womb, causing inflammation and scarring inside the body. It affects 6–10% of women and there is no permanent cure. Medical and laparoscopic surgical treatments are available, but about 28% of patients do not get the hoped-for pain relief after surgery. Currently, there is no way of predicting who gets better and who does not. We systematically searched the world literature to establish who may get better, in order to improve counselling when women choose treatment options. We identified five studies of variable quality showing: More complex disease (in specialist hands) responds better to surgery than less, but more studies needed.