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Clinical features, diagnostic approach, and treatment of adults with thoracic endometriosis

Jose Joseph-Vempilly, MD
Section Editor
V Courtney Broaddus, MD
Deputy Editor
Geraldine Finlay, MD


Endometriosis most commonly involves the pelvis, particularly the ovaries, cul-de-sac, broad ligaments, and uterosacral ligaments. However, endometrial tissue can be found outside the pelvis in the abdomen, thorax, brain, and skin [1]. Thoracic involvement is the most frequent extra-pelvic location of endometriosis [2].

The management of patients with this problem frequently involves multiple disciplines including pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, and gynecologists. Because of the multiple different services involved, good communication among clinicians is critical for successful outcomes.

The clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of thoracic endometriosis will be reviewed here. The pathogenesis, epidemiology, and pathology of thoracic endometriosis and the clinical features and treatment of endometriosis are discussed separately. (See "Thoracic endometriosis: Pathogenesis, epidemiology, and pathology" and "Endometriosis: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis" and "Endometriosis: Treatment of pelvic pain".)


Endometriosis is defined as the presence of ectopic endometrial tissue (glands and stroma) outside the confines of the uterine cavity and musculature. Thoracic endometriosis involves components of the thoracic cavity (eg, pleura, parenchyma, diaphragm, bronchus). The following terms apply:

The term "thoracic” endometriosis is used when endometrial tissue is identified on histological specimens (hormone receptor-positive endometrial stroma and glands) obtained from chest tube aspirate, thoracotomy, or bronchoscopy.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 10, 2017.
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