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J Emerg Med. 2008 May;34(4):429-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2007.05.057. Epub 2008 Feb 1.

Role of bedside transvaginal ultrasonography in the diagnosis of tubo-ovarian abscess in the emergency department.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.


Tubo-ovarian Abscess (TOA) is a complication of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) requiring admission, i.v. antibiotics and, possibly, aspiration or surgery. The purpose of this study was to describe the role of emergency department (ED) bedside transvaginal ultrasonography (US) in the diagnosis of TOA. This was a retrospective review of non-pregnant ED patients presenting with pelvic pain who were diagnosed with TOA using bedside transvaginal US. ED US examinations were performed by emergency medicine residents and ultrasound-credentialed attending physicians within 1 h after clinical assessment. ED US logs were reviewed for the diagnosis of TOA. Medical records were reviewed for risk factors, medical and sexual history, physical examination findings, laboratory results, additional diagnostic testing, hospital course, and a discharge diagnosis of TOA by the admitting gynecology service. A total of 20 patients with TOA were identified over a 3-year period. Ages ranged from 14 to 45 years (mean 27 years). Seven (35%) patients reported a prior history of PID or sexually transmitted disease, and 1 (5%) was febrile. All had lower abdominal tenderness and 9 (45%) had cervical motion or adnexal tenderness. The sonographic abnormalities included 14 (70%) with a complex adnexal mass, 5 (25%) with echogenic fluid in the cul-de-sac, and 3 (15%) patients with pyosalpinx. The discharge diagnosis was TOA by the admitting gynecology service for all patients. Our study illustrates the limitations of clinical criteria in diagnosing TOA and supports the use of bedside US when evaluating patients with pelvic pain and symptoms that do not meet classic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for PID.

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