A study of women with endometriosis is underway exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and cutting-edge medical scanning techniques in diagnosing women earlier without going through invasive surgery.
The study named DEFEND (Developing an US-MRI-biomarker fusion model for Endometriosis) is now
recruiting patients. Researchers are aiming to recruit up to 100 patients at King’s Fertility clinic who are
experiencing the condition.
Endometriosis is a common condition affecting one in 10 women in the UK of childbearing age. Women living with endometriosis may have to put up with significant pelvic and abdominal pain during menstruation, painful intercourse and spontaneous pain outside menstruation. In some cases, it can lead to infertility issues and 30-50% of women with infertility also being diagnosed with endometriosis.
The DEFEND study will explore the effectiveness of using 2D and 3D ultrasound and MRI scanning. It
aims to create a database of ultrasound and MRI images, along with clinical symptoms and medical history, for women with a diagnosis or symptoms of endometriosis. These images will be analysed to
enable the potential development of computer algorithms to read images and harness the power of AI
to better diagnose and manage women with endometriosis in the future.
An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Report on Endometriosis revealed that women with
endometriosis are facing serious delays to diagnosis with nearly two thirds visiting their GP over 10
times, a quarter visiting doctors in hospitals 10 times or more and over half ending up in A&E due to
their pain. According to the report, it takes 8 years on average from onset of symptoms to receiving a
diagnosis, the same length of time as it did a decade ago, highlighting an urgent need for investment in research to drive down this time and ensure appropriate access to care when women need it.
In addition, The Department for Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) ’Women’s Health – Let’s talk about it’
survey showed that 63% of respondents identified gynaecological conditions as a top priority for action
and further research.