Objective: The purpose of this study was to validate the standard minimal clinical criteria and the laparoscopic triad of tubal edema, erythema, and purulent exudate used to diagnose acute upper genital tract infection.
Methods: Subjects included women who either met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) minimal criteria for acute pelvic inflammatory disease or had other signs of upper genital tract infection (i.e., atypical pelvic pain, abnormal uterine bleeding, or cervicitis). The subjects were evaluated with a baseline interview comprehensive laboratory testing, and either an endometrial biopsy or laparoscopy with endometrial and fimbrial biopsies for definitive diagnosis of upper genital tract infection. Patients were considered positive for upper genital tract infection if they had any of the following findings: 1) histologic evidence of endometritis or salpingitis; 2) laparoscopic visualization of purulent exudate in the pelvis without another source; or 3) positive testing for Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis from the endometrium, fallopian tubes, or pelvis.
Results: One hundred twenty-nine women with adequate endometrial samples were evaluated between August 1993 and September 1997, and 62 had complete laparoscopic evaluations. The sensitivities of the CDC's minimal clinical criteria for pelvic inflammatory disease and the laparoscopic triad of edema, erythema, and purulent exudate were 65% and 60%, respectively.
Conclusions: Commonly used minimal clinical criteria for pelvic inflammatory disease and the laparoscopic triad of tubal edema, erythema, and purulent exudate have limited sensitivity with correspondingly high false negative rates.