Another expert, Dr. Pamela Stratton, chief of the gynecology consult service for the National Institutes of Health, who does endometriosis research, called the new studies "provocative."
"This is a very novel way of thinking about this," she said. "Everyone has been focusing on the lesions themselves."
Still, she said, more research is needed. "Its clinical usefulness isn't really known yet," she said of the new approach.
"Let's say the jury is out," agreed Dr. Karen J. Berkley, professor emerita of neuroscience at Florida State University in Tallahassee. "The underlying idea [linking nerve fibers and endometriosis] is not yet understood."
While the technique can be done in the office, it's not trivial, she said. "An endometrial biopsy can be a big deal for someone with a lot of pain," she said.
Even so, news of simpler tests "is very exciting," said Dr. David Healy, of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and president-elect of the International Federation of Fertility Societies. In a statement, he said: "If other doctors can confirm this test, this might become the standard way of diagnosing endometriosis. This would mean that the condition could be identified earlier, which could give real benefits for the infertile woman."
To learn more about endometriosis, visit the Endometriosis Association.
SOURCES: David Healy, M.D., Ph.D., president-elect, International Federation of Fertility Societies; Pamela Stratton, M.D., chief, gynecology consult service, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.; Karen J. Berkley, Ph.D., professor emerita, neuroscience, Florida State University, Tallahassee; Moamar Al-Jefout, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, reproductive medicine, Mu'tah University, Karak, Jordan; Thomas M. D'Hooghe, M.D., Ph.D., professor, medicine, Leuven Unviersity, Leuven, Belgium; Mary Lou Ballweg, spokeswoman, Endometriosis Association; Aug. 19, 2009, Human Reproduction, online