Last updated on November 2019

Pilot Study: Can Ultrasound Guided Biopsy be Used as an Alternative to Hysteroscopy?

Brief description of study

Aim: Assess accuracy of histological diagnosis using ultrasound guided biopsy for women with suspected endometrial cancer (as an alternative to hysteroscopy guided biopsy).

All women presenting to clinic with suspected endometrial cancer will have an internal ultrasound. If the endometrial lining is thickened an endometrial biopsy will be performed. This can sometimes be done in an outpatient clinic, or sometimes a hysteroscopy and biopsy is needed (on a different day). Hysteroscopy guided biopsy has the advantage of enabling the clinician to perform directed biopsies under vision.

Ultrasound guided biopsy is a ubiquitous procedure when used elsewhere in the body however it is not routinely used in this context. It does have the advantage of being easily performed on the same day as the first consultation. In this pilot study we will assess the diagnostic ability and tolerability of ultrasound guided biopsy of women with suspected cancer, as an alternative to hysteroscopy guided biopsy.

Detailed Study Description

Aims: Assess accuracy of histological diagnosis using ultrasound guided biopsy for women with suspected endometrial cancer (as an alternative to hysteroscopy guided biopsy).


Endometrial cancer is a tumour originating in the endometrium (womb lining); it is the most common gynaecological cancer in the UK. Although routine management for these women does vary, in general a screening test is performed, typically a pelvic (internal) ultrasound to assess the endometrium (womb lining). In cases where the endometrial thickness is above the threshold for investigation - an endometrial biopsy (sampling cells from the womb lining) is indicated. The biopsy can be taken blindly or under scan or hysteroscopic guidance. Hysteroscopy, the insertion of a small camera into the womb to visualise the womb lining allows direct visualization of the cavity. This usually occurs at a separate consultation in an outpatient setting or under general anaesthesia.

In theory an ultrasound-guided biopsy using a very fine Bettocchi forceps could be used instead of hysteroscopy- guided biopsies of the endometrium. The technique of ultrasound-guided biopsy is ubiquitous when used elsewhere in the body. It is frequently used to provide histological diagnosis of pelvic masses, (presumed ovarian origin), both abdominally (scanning of the tummy) and transvaginally (internally). Potentially ultrasound guided biopsies could be used as a cheaper, faster and less painful alternative to a hysteroscopy directed biopsies. This pilot study will be the first to assess the diagnostic ability of ultrasound guided biopsy in the assessment of women with suspected endometrial cancer.

The study:

All women will receive a pelvic (internal) ultrasound as per routine care. If the endometrium (womb lining) is thickened >4mm on ultrasound they will require an endometrial biopsy. Usually this will be a pipelle. In cases where the pipelle biopsy cannot be performed in clinic due to poor tolerance, insufficient material or focal lesions a hysteroscopy guided biopsy will be required (local or GA).

In this case, the patients will be offered an ultrasound (USS) guided biopsy in the first instance, this will be performed at the same time in clinic. The biopsy will be taken under scan guidance using a very fine forceps such as Bettochi forceps. These forceps are used routinely during hysteroscopy so whilst the instruments are common the application is novel. The biopsy results of this will be sent for standard histology. If the results are inadequate patients will be sent for standard hysteroscopy and biopsy. Patients will also be asked to assess tolerability of the procedure using a visual analogue score.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03207126

Recruitment Status: Closed

Brief Description Eligibility Contact Research Team

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