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Urol Clin North Am. 1984 Feb;11(1):65-81.

Acute pelvic inflammatory disease.


Acute pelvic inflammatory disease is one of the most important consequences of sexually transmitted infection. Of sexually active women in the United States, one million (or 1 per cent) develop the infection. The sequelae include infertility (10 per cent), ectopic pregnancy (5 per cent), chronic pain (15 per cent), and recurrent infection (25 per cent). Organisms that cause the infection include Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, genital mycoplasma, and a wide variety of facultative and anaerobic bacteria. Prompt recognition and therapy are necessary to reduce the sequelae.


This discussion of acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) -- usually a spontaneous infection that occurs among sexually active, menstruating, nonpregnant women -- covers: pathophysiology; microbial etiology (gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital mycoplasmas, and aerobic and anerobic bacteria); epidemiology (number of sexual partners, age, IUDs, previous PID, previous gonorrhea, untreated male sexual contacts, and perihepatitis associated with PID); diagnosis (physical examination, laboratory examination, culdocentesis, examination of the male partner, cultures, and ultrasonography); treatment; and sequelae (recurrent PID, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and pain). The majority of infections are caused by bacteria and a polymicrobial bacterial infection is common. Neisseria gonorrhea, Chlamydia trachomatis, and a wide variety of aerobic and anerobic bacteria are most frequently isolated from women with PID. Primary PID is usually and acute infection in which organisms ascend into the uterus and fallopian tubes from the cervix. Chronic active infections are unusual except in neglected cases and in Actinomyces infection, but sterile chronic inflammatory adhesions are common residuals of acute infection. Except for women who have an IUD in place or the 15% who have had uterine instrumentation, spontaneous PID is almost totally confined to women who are sexually active. There is a much higher PID rate among younger than older women. Women who use an IUD for contraception are at least 2-4 times more likely to develop PID than nonusers. Women who have had PID are twice as likely to develop the infection as those who have never had it. A history of a prior uncomplicated gonococcal infection is more common among women with PID than among women without disease. Untreated males with urethral N. gonorrhea and possibly with C. trachomatis infection are an important source of infection both for the initial and for recurrent episodes of PID. Abdominal pain is the most common symptom although the pain may be mild or even absent in at least 5% of patients with PID verified by laparoscopy. In patients who have overt PID, it is possible to establish the diagnosis with reasonable certainty by a combination of history, physical examination, Gram stain of cervical secretions, culdocentesis, and examination of the male sexual partner. Adequate treatment of salpingitis includes an assessment of the severity of the infection, administration of appropriate antibiotics, employment of other health measures, close patient follow-up, and treatment of the male sexual patner. 25% of women with 1 episode of salpingitis develop a subsequent episode.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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