A patient’s medical history consists of the following components:
- Her own personal narrative of the onset and course of her symptoms, the impact they have had on her life and the treatments she has tried up until now
- Patient questionnaires on family medical history, general health and demographics, fertility, pelvic pain symptoms (bowel, bladder, sexual, and cyclical/menstrual), diet and lifestyle, and current and previous treatments for endometriosis, pain management, fertility and other health conditions
- Surgical and pathology reports, surgical images and videos (if available), findings from previous pelvic exams, and test results (blood work, ultrasound, CT and MRI scans, colonoscopy, etc.)
The patient narrative and questionnaires can be filled out at home and sent to us by mail and the medical records requested and submitted prior to setting up an in-office or phone consult. This way Vital health has time to sit down and carefully review all the information in order to form our expert medical opinion.
For those patients who have not previously undergone diagnostic laparoscopy, special attention will be paid to the history and nature of their symptoms as well as any findings from previous tests and examinations. The question is not only whether signs and symptoms are suggestive of endometriosis (and/or other conditions) but also whether your medical history raises further potential areas for improvement and which treatment options and lifestyle changes might be explored to improve your overall health.
For those patients who have already undergone prior pelvic surgery, two questions are at the forefront: Do I (still) have endometriosis and are my persistent/recurrent symptoms due to endometriosis or something else? Just as with undiagnosed patients, all available information will be thoroughly evaluated but in addition to this, surgical records will be examined to assess the extent and success of previous surgery, the likelihood of persistent disease and the benefits of further surgery and/or other treatment options that could be explored. The review of previous operative reports can be crucial in predicting whether a patient has deeply buried endometriosis. Sometimes, finding endometriosis is like digging for buried treasure: previous operative reports can be used as a map to help find it.
The medical history analysis will help prospective surgical patients know what to expect prior to surgery. The complexity of the surgery and severity of disease can be estimated as can the potential benefits of surgery (it can be that surgery will help resolve some of the patient’s problems but not all). It enables the patient to come to us with realistic expectations and to carefully consider any questions or concerns in advance. This helps us help you as best we can and for you to get the very most out of your visit, which is especially important for the many patients who travel long distances to come to us for their care.
Not everyone will come to us for surgery or other treatments. Some women may not be in a position to do so for practical or financial reasons. Regardless of whether you ultimately come to us as a patient, Dr. Cook is dedicated to helping any woman with pelvic pain and will review your case and offer his expert opinion during a free “virtual consult”. You can then use this information to help guide future treatment decisions and seek out optimal care wherever that may be.
A Vital Health team member will discuss your case, clarifying information where needed and taking the time to listen carefully to your story. We are well aware that this will often be the first opportunity you have had to discuss your illness with someone who really understands, which can be an emotional experience. We will also answer any questions you may have and will take our time to explain the findings of the medical history analysis and the options you might like to consider to help resolve your symptoms and improve your overall health.