Worldwide EndoMarch Blog
You’re Right, Something Is Wrong: The Success of Early Diagnosis and Laser Excision Surgery for Endometriosis
Mario Nutis, MD, an expert in pelvic pain, is Medical Director of the Center of Excellence for Minimally Invasive Gynecology at Del Sol Medical Center, El Paso, Texas.
For physicians trained to recognize endometriosis, there is a familiar refrain: “I’ve had terrible periods for years, and I’ve described the pain to three different doctors. No one told me about this!”
When I worked under Dr. Camran Nezhat, one of the founders of EndoMarch, my profound interest in this condition stemmed from this pattern of misdiagnosis, often by multiple doctors. Many medical professionals are simply not aware of endometriosis’ symptoms or its prevalence.
Determined to help change this dynamic, my goal is to give patients with endometriosis an accurate diagnosis as early as possible. The value of early diagnosis is clear – treatment can be more effective, and patients will not have to spend decades suffering with debilitating pain and possibly scarring and infertility. Today, most of my patients are in their teens and twenties. By asking the right questions and listening carefully, I can provide that important early diagnosis and offer patients the treatment they need so that their health can be restored and they can return to living full lives as pain-free as possible.
No, Your Symptoms Aren’t Normal
Endometriosis pain can begin with a girl’s first period. Yet, from the moment symptoms occur, they are told by their pediatrician or family doctor that painful periods are normal, and maybe they are staying in bed for a few days because they are depressed or don’t want to go to school. They are prescribed birth control pills and handed over-the-counter painkillers.
Teens with severe dysmenorrhea may have endometriosis. Unfortunately, because they are told their symptoms are normal, these patients usually do not seek help.
When a doctor refers a patient to my office for severe pain, I typically do not see that pain firsthand. Without firsthand observation, diagnosis depends on the patient’s answers to my questions. If she tells me that she has gone to the emergency room for pain, misses school or work and stays in bed with a heating pad for a few days during her period, has acute abdominal, bowel or bladder pain so that it causes nausea or vomiting and/or finds that pain medications and birth control pills have not helped sufficiently, then it is likely she has endometriosis. Pain so severe that it changes her life is not normal.
Because these patients are young, they have often been accused of exaggerating or their parents are concerned about depression. Some are even accused of drug-seeking behavior. They tell me it feels good to be believed and understood – and even better to be treated.
Yes, There Is an Effective Treatment
Because many patients come to me after trying birth control pills and pain medications, my treatment is usually surgical. Cells in the abdomen and pelvis are actively causing severe, chronic pain and irritation. I explain to my patients that instead of treating their pain, I can eliminate its source by “cleaning out” those cells.
Minimally invasive excision treatment with the Lumenis CO2 laser is an outpatient procedure considered the “gold standard” for treating endometriosis. With a few tiny incisions, the surgeon has a clear view of endometriotic growths that may be present in the lower and/upper abdomen or even the thoracic area in rare cases. The technique of endometriosis excision is accomplished using the highly precise laser to work in delicate detail for eradication of the endometriotic cells without damaging healthy adjacent tissue, organs or structures. The result is that healthy tissue remains intact, and the function of all organs involved is preserved. The sooner I treat with laser excision, the more effective it is – another reason to raise awareness of endometriosis and speed diagnosis. Patients can learn more about endometriosis, treatment options and locations for CO2 laser excision treatment at GynHealth.com.
You Can Take Charge
When I deliver babies, parents are over the moon and immediately forget I exist. That’s natural. But when I treat patients for endometriosis and get rid of their pain, they bring me donuts. I get thank-you cards and Facebook comments. They tell me I’ve changed their lives. It’s very rewarding for me, but more importantly, it shows just how much of an impact endometriosis pain has on people’s lives and how the appropriate treatment can give them their lives back. They no longer feel they have to accept it when they’re told that their symptoms are normal and they’re just overreacting. They are in charge of endometriosis, instead of it being in charge of them, and they can finally live life to the fullest.
You can watch videos of Dr. Nutis treating endometriosis on his online channel.