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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (cont.)

Exams and Tests

A health care practitioner usually will diagnose PID by taking the individual's medical history, doing a physical exam, and ordering appropriate tests.

Physical exam findings in PID often include the following:

  • a temperature greater than 101 F (38.3 C);
  • abnormal vaginal discharge;
  • lower abdominal tenderness when exterior pressure is applied;
  • tenderness when the cervix is moved (during a bimanual or speculum exam); or
  • tenderness in female organs (ovaries).

Laboratory tests may include the following:

  • a urine or serum pregnancy test if the female is of childbearing age;
  • urinalysis to check for bladder and kidney infection;
  • a complete blood count (although fewer than half of women with acute PID have a high white blood cell count indicating an infection);
  • cervical cultures for gonorrhea and chlamydia;
  • tests for other sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis and HIV; and
  • additional tests (see below) if more severe symptoms are present.

Imaging

A pelvic ultrasound, although not routinely done, can be an important tool in diagnosing complications such as tubo-ovarian abscesses, ovarian torsion, ovarian cysts, and ectopic pregnancy. Although unlikely to occur in pregnancy, PID is the most commonly missed diagnosis in ectopic pregnancies and can occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Exploratory Surgery

A woman's health specialist (a gynecologist) can use a laparoscope (a small tube with a camera attached) and make small surgical incisions in and around the navel to view the reproductive organs and evaluate whether inflammation is present. The doctor can also identify an ectopic pregnancy using this technique. Definitive care can then be provided from starting IV antibiotics to removing an ectopic pregnancy.

A health care practitioner will start antibiotic therapy for PID as soon as the diagnosis is made. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are suspected and treated in every person. Pain medication and IV fluids will be given if the patient needs them.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/10/2014

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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease »

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an inflammatory disorder of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and adjacent pelvic structures.

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