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Surgical treatment doesn't relieve pelvic pain

September 1, 2009 |  4:20 pm

LaparoscopeMany women suffer from chronic pelvic pain. The condition is caused by endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or adhesions in the pelvis, and causes pain, painful menstruation and painful sexual intercourse. But a common surgical procedure performed to disrupt the nerve signals in the pelvic organs is not helpful, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

The procedure is called LUNA -- laparoscopic utero-sacral nerve ablation. The procedure interferes with pain signals by cutting nerves in the utero-sacral ligament. The study featured 487 women with chronic pelvic pain at 18 hospitals in the United Kingdom. The women were assigned to be treated with LUNA or have laparoscopy for diagnostic purposes only without LUNA. The women were questioned six months after the surgery, and each year afterward for five years about their pain and health-related quality of life. After 69 months, there were no significant differences reported in pain or quality of life between the two groups.

"Chronic pelvic-pain in women is as common as asthma and chronic back pain; is one of the most difficult and perplexing of women's health problems and has [multiple causes]," the authors wrote. About 40% of referrals for laparoscopy involved chronic pelvic pain in women. Treatments are often unsatisfactory, they said. "LUNA was adopted by many practitioners because afferent nerves from pelvic organs pass through the utero-sacral ligament and it was thought that disruption of these would reduce the perceived pain."

Ladies, don't waste your time.

-- Shari Roan

 Photo credit: Ric Francis  / AP