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Written by dr- zhila abedi asl. Posted in Uncategorised

Asherman's syndromeAsherman's syndrome (AS) or Fritsch syndrome, is a condition characterized by adhesions and/or fibrosis of the endometrium most often associated with dilation and curettage of the intrauterine cavity. A number of other terms have been used to describe the condition and related conditions including: intrauterine adhesions (IUA), uterine/cervical atresia, traumatic uterine atrophy, sclerotic endometrium, endometrial sclerosis, and intrauterine synechiaeCauses and features

The cavity of the uterus is lined by the endometrium. This lining is composed of two layers, the functional layer (adjacent to the uterine cavity) which is shed during menstruation and an underlying basal layer (adjacent to the myometrium), which is necessary for regenerating the functional layer. Trauma to the basal layer, typically after a dilation and curettage (D&C) performed after a miscarriage, or delivery, or for surgical termination of pregnancy, can lead to the development of intrauterine scars resulting in adhesions that can obliterate the cavity to varying degrees. In the extreme, the whole cavity can be scarred and occluded. Even with relatively few scars, the endometrium may fail to respond to estrogen. Often, patients experience secondary menstrual irregularities characterized by a decrease in flow and duration of bleeding (amenorrhea, hypomenorrhea, or oligomenorrhea) and become infertile. Menstrual anomalies are often but not always correlated with severity: adhesions restricted to only the cervix or lower uterus may block menstruation. Pain during menstruation and ovulation is sometimes experienced and can be attributed to blockages. It has been reported that 88% of AS cases occur after a D&C is performed on a recently pregnant uterus, following a missed or incomplete miscarriage, birth, or during an elective termination (abortion) to remove retained products of conception

 It affects women of all races and ages equally, suggesting no underlying genetic predisposition for its development. Depending on the degree of severity, AS may result in infertility, repeated miscarriages, pain from trapped blood, and future obstetric complications (see Prognoses below). If left untreated, the obstruction of menstrual flow resulting from adhesions can lead to endometriosis in some cases

AS can also result from other pelvic surgeries including cesarean sections, removal of fibroid tumours (myomectomy) and from other causes such as IUDs, pelvic irradiation, schistosomiasis and genital tuberculosis. Chronic endometritis from genital tuberculosis is a significant cause of severe intrauterine adhesions (IUA) in the developing world, often resulting in total obliteration of the uterine cavity which is difficult to treat

One study found a significant correlation between Paramesonephric duct anomalies and intrauterine adhesions. This apparent correlation is attributed to women with congenital uterine anomalies being predisposed to miscarriages, and therefore having higher rates of D&Cs performed than the general population, which could account for the higher rate of IUA observed. It is also feasible that women with septate uteri and other Müllerian defects are at a higher risk of sustaining endometrial damage after blind D&C due to their atypical anatomy, particularly if the doctor performing the surgery was unaware of it

An artificial form of AS can be surgically induced by endometrial ablation in women with excessive uterine bleeding, in lieu of hysterectomy

Incidence

AS has a reported incidence of 25% of D&Cs performed 1–4 weeks post-partum, up to 30.9% of D&Cs performed for missed miscarriages and 6.4% of D&Cs performed for incomplete miscarriages. In another study, 40% of patients who underwent repeated D&C for retained products of conception after missed miscarriage or retained placenta developed AS

In the case of missed miscarriages, the time period between fetal demise and curettage may increase the likelihood of adhesion formation due to fibroblastic activity of the remaining tissue

 The risk of AS also increases with the number of procedures: one study estimated the risk to be 16% after one D&C and 32% after 3 or more D&Cs However, a single curettage often underlies the condition

Prevalence

In an attempts to estimate the prevalence of AS in the general population, it was found in 1.5% of women undergoing hysterosalpingography HSG, and between 5 and 39% of women with recurrent miscarriage

After miscarriage, a review estimated the prevalence of AS to be approximately 20% (95% confidence interval: 13% to 28%

Diagnosis

The history of a pregnancy event followed by a D&C leading to secondary amenorrhea or hypomenorrhea is typical. Hysteroscopy is the gold standard for diagnosis. Imaging by sonohysterography or hysterosalpingography will reveal the extent of the scar formation. Ultrasound is not a reliable method of diagnosing Asherman's Syndrome. Hormone studies show normal levels consistent with reproductive function.

Classification

Various classification systems were developed to describe Asherman’s syndrome (citations to be added), some taking into account the amount of functioning residual endometrium, menstrual pattern, obstetric history and other factors which are thought to play a role in determining the prognoses. With the advent of techniques which allow visualization of the uterus, classification systems were developed to take into account the location and severity of adhesions inside the uterus. This is useful as mild cases with adhesions restricted to the cervix may present with amenorrhea and infertility, showing that symptoms alone do not necessarily reflect severity. Other patients may have no adhesions but amenorrhea and infertility due to a sclerotic atrophic endometrium. The latter form has the worst prognosis.

Treatment

Fertility may sometimes be restored by removal of adhesions, depending on the severity of the initial trauma and other individual patient factors. Operative hysteroscopy is used for visual inspection of the uterine cavity during adhesion dissection (adhesiolysis). However, hysteroscopy is yet to become a routine gynaecological procedure and only 15% of US gynecologists perform office hysteroscopy {Isaacson, 2002}. Adhesion dissection can be technically difficult and must be performed with care in order to not create new scars and further exacerbate the condition. In more severe cases, adjunctive measures such as laparoscopy are used in conjunction with hysteroscopy as a protective measure against uterine perforation. Microscissors are usually used to cut adhesions. Electrocauterization is not recommended.

As IUA frequently reform after surgery, techniques have been developed to prevent recurrence of adhesions. Methods to prevent adhesion reformation include the use of mechanical barriers (Foley catheter, saline-filled Cook Medical Balloon Uterine Stent, IUCD) and gel barriers (Seprafilm, Spraygel, autocrosslinked hyaluronic acid gel Hyalobarrier) to maintain opposing walls apart during healing ,thereby preventing the reformation of adhesions. Antibiotic prophylaxis is necessary in the presence of mechanical barriers to reduce the risk of possible infections. A common pharmacological method for preventing reformation of adhesions is sequential hormonal therapy with estrogen followed by a progestin to stimulate endometrial growth and prevent opposing walls from fusing together }. However there have been no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing post-surgical adhesion reformation with and without hormonal treatment and the ideal dosing regimen or length of estrogen therapy is not known. The absence of prospective RCTs comparing treatment methods makes it difficult to recommend optimal treatment protocols. Furthermore, diagnostic severity and outcomes are assessed according to different criteria (e.g. menstrual pattern, adhesion reformation rate, conception rate, live birth rate). Clearly, more comparable studies are needed in which reproductive outcome can be analysed systematically.

Follow-up tests (HSG, hysteroscopy or SHG) are necessary to ensure that adhesions have not reformed. Further surgery may be necessary to restore a normal uterine cavity. According to a recent study among 61 patients, the overall rate of adhesion recurrence was 27.9% and in severe cases this was 41.9%. Another study found that postoperative adhesions reoccur in close to 50% of severe AS and in 21.6% of moederate cases. Mild IUA, unlike moderate to severe synechiae, do not appear to reform.