Objective To investigate the impact of premature ovarian failure due to whole abdominal radiotherapy (DXT) in childhood on uterine physical characteristics and blood flow and measuring the uterine response to exogenous sex steroid replacement
Design A comparative observational study
Subjects 10 women with premature ovarian failure due to treatment with whole abdominal irradiation in childhood. A comparison group of 22 women with premature ovarian failure who had not received whole abdominal DXT.
Main outcome measures Uterine length and uterine blood flow measurement plus serial assessment of endometrial thickness during a cycle of exogenous sex steroid replacement.
Results Uterine length was significantly less (P<0.01) in women who had been exposed to whole abdominal DXT in childhood (mean 4.1 cm, 2SE 0.8) compared with a mean of 7.3 cm (2SE 0.6) in the comparison group. The three women in the DXT group who were studied serially had no increase in endometrial thickness in response to physiological sex steroid replacement therapy and most of the 10 irradiated women had no detectable uterine blood flow with Doppler ultrasound.
Conclusions Uterine musculature and blood flow are irreversibly affected by high dose irradiation in childhood. Non-invasive assessment of this nature may predict potential for pregnancy following ovum donation and embryo transfer.