Acute pelvic inflammatory disease is a condition associated with infection of the Fallopian tubes. Following childbirth or a miscarriage, infection may ascend through the uterus and reach the Fallopian tubes. Sometimes the initial infection may follow sexual intercourse. The blood count may suggest evidence of infection in the body. Initially, in the acute phase, there is active bacterial infection.

The inflammation may spread to surrounding structures including the ovaries. A variety of names have been used, the most common being salpingitis (inflammation of the Fallopian tubes) and salpingo-oophoritis (inflammation of the tubes and ovaries). In the acute phase, bacteria are present. Typically the patient has general symptoms of infection including feeling unwell, fever and loss of appetite. There is pain in the pelvis and tenderness on either side of the uterus at pelvic examination. Several different bacteria may cause acute pelvic infection. A swab may be taken from the cervix by your doctor. It should be recognised that this is rather remote from the Fallopian tubes. The swab is sent to the laboratory where it is plated out on to a culture medium to allow the responsible bacteria to be identified and the sensitivity to various antibiotics to be tested. Some micro-organisms known to be implicated in pelvic inflammatory disease, such as Mycoplasma hominis, are difficult to culture and may be missed. If the Fallopian tubes are visualised at laparoscopy they appear inflamed.    

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