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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(3):CD003678.

Pre and post operative medical therapy for endometriosis surgery.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Singapore General Hospital, Outram Road, Singapore, Singapore, 169608.



Endometriosis is a common gynaecological condition which affects approximately 10% of women of reproductive age (Askenazi 1997). There is a range of symptoms and most commonly women present with dysmenorrhoea, pelvic pain, infertility or a pelvic mass. Direct visualisation and biopsy during laparoscopy or laparotomy is the gold standard diagnostic test for this condition and enables the gynaecologist to identify the location, extent and severity of the disease. Surgical therapy can be performed concurrently with diagnostic surgery and may include removal (excision) or destruction (ablation) of endometriotic tissue, division of adhesions and removal of endometriotic cysts. Laparoscopic excision or ablation of endometriosis has been shown to be effective in the management of pain in mild-moderate endometriosis. Adjunctive medical treatment pre or post-operatively may prolong the symptom-free interval.


To determine the effectiveness of systemic medical therapies used for hormonal suppression before or after surgery for endometriosis, or before and after surgery for endometriosis in the eradication of endometriosis, improvement of symptoms, pregnancy rates and overall tolerability by comparing them with no treatment or placebo.


We searched the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility group trials register (searched 10 September 2003), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library Issue 3 2003), MEDLINE (January 1966 to September 2003), EMBASE (January 1985 to September 2003) and reference lists of articles. We also contacted researchers in the field.


Trials were included if they were randomised controlled trials of the use of systemic medical therapies for hormonal suppression before or after, or before and after surgery for endometriosis.


Data extraction and quality assessment was performed independently by using relative risk or weighted mean difference and 95% confidence intervals.


Eleven trials were included in the review. One study comparing pre-surgical medical therapy with surgery alone showed a significant improvement in AFS scores in the medical therapy group (WMD -9.60, 95% CI -11.42 to -7.78) but this may or may not be associated with better outcomes for the patients. Post surgical hormonal suppression of endometriosis compared to surgery alone (either no medical therapy or placebo) showed no benefit for the outcomes of pain or pregnancy rates but a significant improvement in disease recurrence (AFS scores (WMD -2.30, 95% CI -4.02 to -0.58)). There were no trials identified in the search that compared hormonal suppression of endometriosis before and after surgery with surgery alone. There is no significant difference between pre surgery hormonal suppression and post surgery hormonal suppression for the outcome of pain in the one trial identified (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.49 to 2.07). Information concerning AFS scores and ease of surgery was reported only as a descriptive summary so any difference between the groups can not be quantified from the information in the report of this trial.


There is insufficient evidence from the studies identified to conclude that hormonal suppression in association with surgery for endometriosis is associated with a significant benefit with regard to any of the outcomes identified. There may be a benefit of improvement in AFS scores with the pre-surgical use of medical therapy. The possible benefit should be weighed in the context of the adverse effects and costs of these therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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