What is Thoracic Endometriosis
Endometriosis usually involves the pelvis, especially the ovaries, cul-de-sac, broad lines, and uterosacral muscles. However, endometrial tissue can be found without skin on the abdomen, chest, brain, and skin. Thoracic involvement is the most common area of pelvic endometriosis.
The pathogenesis, epidemiology, and pathology of thoracic endometriosis will be reviewed here. Details regarding clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of thoracic and pelvic endometriosis are discussed separately. (See “Clinical features, diagnostic criteria, and treatment of adults with thoracic endometriosis” and “Endometriosis: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis” and “Endometriosis: Treatment of genital pain”.)
Endometriosis is defined as the presence of ectopic endometrial tissue (glands and stroma) outside the boundaries of the cervical spine and muscles. Thoracic endometriosis involves parts of the thoracic spine (e.g., pleura, parenchyma, diaphragm, bronchus). The following terms apply:
Thoracic endometriosis – The term “thoracic” endometriosis is used when the endometrial tissue is found in histological specimens (hormone receptor-positive endometrial stroma and glands) found in the chest tube aspirate, thoracotomy, or bronchoscopy.
Potential thorometic endometriosis – The term “possible” thoracic endometriosis refers to tissue identification within the chest that suggests but not a direct diagnosis of the endometrium (e.g. only stroma or malignant tissue receptor hormone).