In a major advance in women’s reproductive medicine, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch say they have developed a method to use an ultrasound probe to measure the thickness of the endometriosis-producing cells inside the uterus, which is what’s known as thickened ovarian endometria.
The new method could lead to new treatments for endometritis, a condition that affects an estimated 1 in 10 women worldwide.
Researchers at the university’s Texas Women’s Health Center, led by University of North Texas MD Anderson professor of obstetrics and gynecology Anjali Gupta, are reporting their findings in the journal Endocrinology on Feb. 26.
They are also planning to apply the new method for other types of endometric problems.
They are currently studying the effectiveness of the new ultrasound-guided method for treating women with thickened Endometrial Endothelial cells, or EECs.
Gupta, who received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, said she believes it could be used to treat other types and types of abnormal tissue in the uterus.
She said the method could also be applied to other conditions, such as cancer, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
“The main thing is that it can be used for all types of conditions that are associated with the thickened ovary endometra and the thicker endometroids, so there are a lot of possibilities,” she said.
She and her colleagues hope to have their study published in a future issue of Endocrinological Therapy.
They have been conducting the research since 2012.
The UTMB researchers have used ultrasound to measure tissue thickness in patients with endometrics, which cause endometral thickening.
They first used ultrasound-generated images to show how thickened tissue could be.
Then, the team applied a thinning agent called hydrogel to the tissue, which allowed the researchers to measure how much the thinning agents increased the thickness.
The researchers found that the thinner the tissue is, the more hydrogels were applied to it, which reduced the thickness and decreased the hydrogility of the hydroxyl group.
“So it works in an opposite way than you would think, it doesn’t increase the thickness, but it reduces the hydrogen,” Gupta said.
This results in a thicker tissue, so the researchers say this is the first study to show that the thickness can be directly compared between patients who have thickened or thinned ovarian endomembranes.
“It does seem to be a new way to measure thickness, which has never been done before,” Gupta told CBS News.
Guanda said the team is now investigating ways to increase the size of the probe.
They have also developed an ultrasound-induced dye to help them measure the concentration of the thickening agent, which could be useful for other patients with thinned endometrionic tissue.
“We are looking at making this dye-based tool so we can test different combinations and see which one works best for patients,” Gupta added.
The team has also tested their method on women who have endometrogenic conditions, which include endometrin-producing endometrimal hyperplasia, a rare condition in which the lining of the uterus becomes thicker.
The research is the latest to be published in Endocrinologist.
The journal also published two other studies in June and August of the same authors on the same research topic.