An Unusual Presentation of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: Case Report and Discussion

Case Report

Austin J Womens Health. 2014;1(1): 3.

An Unusual Presentation of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: Case Report and Discussion

Patricia Rekawek1, Frederick Friedman1*

1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York

*Corresponding author: Frederick Friedman, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 1 Gustave L Levy Place, Box 1170, New York, NY 10029

Received: October 09, 2014; Accepted: October 23, 2014; Published: October 27, 2014


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) generally results from an infectious process that involves the entire upper reproductive tract. It is generally felt that the inciting event is contraction of a sexually transmitted cervicitis, with ascension from the cervix leading to peritonitis. Classical teaching states that sterilization via tubal ligation is protective. Laparoscopy has been employed to establish or confirm a diagnosis when there is uncertainty or failure to respond to standard treatment. We present a case of PID occurring in a patient who had undergone a tubal ligation 20 years prior to presentation. Her low risk behavior and atypical complaints and physical exam findings necessitated laparoscopy to establish the diagnosis.

Keywords: Post-Sterilization Pelvic Inflammatory Disease; Post- Sterilization Salpingitis; Laparoscopy


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) encompasses a spectrum of infectious disorders of the upper reproductive tract, but is often used synonymously with salinities. Excluding the rare hematogenously spread pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is a causetypically limited to developing countries, most cases arise from ascending infections from the cervico-vaginal tract. The sexually transmitted diseases gonorrhea and chlamydia are responsible for about two-thirds of cases; the remaining inciting pathogens remain cryptic [1,2]. It is generally believed that sexual activity is the sine qua non for PID. Women who are abstinent or in a mutually monogamous relationship have almost no risk, while those with multiple partners are at greater risk. Barrier methods, especially condoms, are considered to be protective. Tubal ligation is usually felt to lower one’s susceptibility to salpingitis as well. In fact, PID following tubal ligation is a rare occurrence. Due to the nonspecific signs and symptoms of PID, diagnosis is often difficult. Some have advocated the liberal use of laparoscopy to establish the diagnosis [3]; more recently, this option has been found to have low sensitivity, and thus may be more suitable for confirmation [4]. Despite improvements in imaging technologies, the use of non-invasive diagnostic modalities has yielded variable results. We report an unusual case of PID which appears to have been precipitated by a retained tampon. This patient had a previous tubal ligation, and due to her atypical presentation and findings, laparoscopy was necessary for diagnosis.

Case Presentation

A 44 year old para 2012 presented to a local emergency room with a three day history of progressive lower abdominal pain and nausea. Twenty years prior, the patient underwent a bilateral tubal ligation following delivery of her second child. She had normal cyclic menses and no other prior surgeries. She was sexually active with one male partner for the past several years, although had no coitus for the antecedent 4 weeks.

The patient’s pain began gradually and increased in severity over a few days.She had no fever, nausea, diarrhea, constipation or other changes in bowel or bladder habits. The pain was exacerbated on motion but did not improve with resting. Upon presentation to a local Emergency Room, a retained tampon was removed. An abdominopelvic CT scan showed no abdominal or pelvic masses; pelvic sonography revealed normal ovaries and no free fluid. Electrolytes, white blood cell count and liver enzymes were all within normal limits; a urinalysis was negative. She was given oral doxycycline and metronidazole, which she vomited, and was discharged. The patient then presented to her gynecologist the next day for further evaluation. At that time, examination revealed a well-appearing woman who appeared uncomfortable, but in no acute distress. She was afebrile with normal vital signs; she had no rash. Her abdomen was soft, non-distended and without masses or organomegaly. She had focal bilateral lower quadrant tenderness but no rebound. Pelvic exam revealed lichen sclerosis of the vulva, and slight staining per os without malodorous discharge. There was no cervical motion tenderness or overt cervicitis. The uterus was midposition, minimally enlarged, and mobile without tenderness. The adnexae were without masses and palpation elicited minimal tenderness. Rectovaginal exam was unremarkable. Swabs were sent for cervical culture and gonorrhea and chlamydia testing. The patient was then admitted for further observation and management. A serum pregnancy test was negative. All routine admission laboratory values were within normal limits, including liver enzymes, electrolytes and a WBC of 9.0 x 103/ μl. surgical consultation was obtained, and the patient was started on empiric ampicillin/sulbactam. Repeat pelvic sonography showed a normal uterus with an 8mm endometrial echo, a hyperechoic area in her anterior lower uterine segment (likely representing her prior cesarean section scar,) normal ovaries and a small amount of free pelvic fluid. Abdominal sonography revealed a 1cm round echogenic lesion, presumably a hemangioma, in the right lobe of her liver; the gall bladder, pancreas, spleen and both kidneys were unremarkable. The aorta was normal without para-aortic adenopathy. The patient remained afebrile with increasing pain overnight; pelvic exam was unchanged. An abdominopelvic CT scan revealed a normal size liver with mild fatty infiltration and a possible small hemangioma; thegall bladder and ductal system were unremarkable. The stomach and bowel were incompletely visualized, but appeared normal. The spleen, pancreas, adrenal glands, and kidneys were also normal. The aorta was normal without retroperitoneal adenopathy; scattered small lymph nodes were seen in the pelvic and inguinal regions. The uterus was unremarkable, but clusters of small cystic structures were seen in the pelvis on both sides of the uterine fundus. The cluster on the left measures overall 4.1 cm x 2.7 cm and on the right measures 3.5 cm x 2.5 cm. These were felt to most likely represent the adnexa. No ascites was seen. The appendix was normal in caliber with its tip somewhat in the region of the cluster of lucencies in the right hemipelvis. No focally prominent infiltration of fat was seen in this area compared to the remainder of the abdomen and pelvis. A small fat-containing periumbilical hernia was seen; the small bowel protruded towards this area although no frank bowel herniation or obstruction was evident. In view of the increasing pain and uncertain diagnosis, the patient underwent laparoscopy for diagnosis. On entry, omental adhesions to the anterior abdominal wall were seen; the upper abdomen was unremarkable and free of adhesive disease. A hyperemic bulky uterus was present. There were bilateral periovarian and peritubal adhesions with normal ovaries bilaterally. The fallopian tubes previously had been transected distally. There were bilateral proximal small hydrosalpinges adherent to the anterior abdominal wall, underlying the patient’s reported sites of maximal pain. The appendix was adherent to the right fallopian tube. (Figures 1 and 2) Laparoscopic lysis of adhesions, bilateral salpingectomy and an appendectomy were performed; the site of peri-umbilical herniation was also repaired, although no incarceration was present. The patient has an unremarkable postoperative course with rapid resolution of her pain. She was discharged home on postoperative Day 2on oflaxacin, due to a multiple drug allergy history. She was seen 2 weeks later for follow-up and was without complaints. Histopathology revealed bilateral pyosalpinges with acute and chronic salpingitis and evolving microabscesses. The appendix showed obliteration of the distal lumen, but was otherwise without significant change. Her outpatient cervical cultures and nucleic acid testing were negative; cultures of the fallopian tubes also were negative.

Citation: Rekawek P, Friedman F. An Unusual Presentation of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: Case Report and Discussion. Austin J Womens Health. 2014;1(1): 3.