Original Research

Endometrial sampling at an academic hospital in South Africa: Histological findings, lessons learnt and interesting surprises

Reena D. Mohanlal
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 9, No 1 | a1038 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v9i1.1038 | © 2020 Reena D. Mohanlal | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 April 2019 | Published: 29 September 2020

About the author(s)

Reena D. Mohanlal, Department of Anatomical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, National Health Laboratory Services, Chris Hani Baragwanath Laboratory, Johannesburg, South Africa

Share this article

Bookmark and Share


Background: Outpatient sampling is used to investigate endometrial pathology. Little is known about practice habits and local failure rates at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Objective: This study assessed the frequency of samples that showed no or limited histological representation of endometrium, and described demographic and pathological features.

Methods: All endometrial sample histology reports from the National Health Laboratory Services at the hospital from 01 July 2013 to 31 May 2017 were retrieved by searching the laboratory’s information system. Clinical variables (age, menopausal state, indication for biopsy, endometrial thickness on ultrasound) and pathological findings (macroscopic amount of tissue, histological diagnosis, microscopic presence of endometrial tissue) were extracted and statistically analysed.

Results: A total of 1926 samples were included, 91% of which were submitted for abnormal or postmenopausal bleeding. No endometrium was observed in 25% of samples and 13% showed limited endometrium. Benign diagnoses (86%) were most common, with proliferative or secretory changes, endometrial polyps and endometritis accounting for most of these. Associations between the amount of sample received and the presence of endometrial tissue (p ≤ 0.001) and benign versus malignant diagnoses (p ≤ 0.001) were noted. The greater the endometrial thickness, the greater the likelihood of obtaining more sample (bulky vs scant p < 0.001) and making a malignant versus benign diagnosis (p = 0.005).

Conclusion: These findings are in keeping with literature outside Africa. Histology reports should be explicit when terms such as ‘inadequate’ or ‘insufficient’ are used, in order to facilitate clinical decision-making.


Endometrial sampling; inadequate endometrial biopsy; postmenopausal bleeding; pathology; histopathology; gynaecology


Total abstract views: 1095
Total article views: 881

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.