Clinical features, investigations and management of adolescents with polycystic ovary syndrome

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BACKGROUND: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is defined as chronic anovulation with evidence of hyperandrogenism, after the exclusion of secondary causes. It is commonly linked to obesity and the presence of the metabolic syndrome. OBJECTIVES: To review the clinical features and medical assessment of adolescents referred for PCOS to gynecology or endocrinology services at The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, Ontario). METHODS: A chart review was conducted of all adolescents with PCOS referred during a one-year period. Measures included clinical findings, investigations and management. RESULTS: Forty-one adolescent girls, with a mean age ± SD of 14.7±1.5 years, were reviewed. Common presenting complaints were menstrual irregularities in 35 of 41 girls (85%) and hirsutism in 28 of 41 girls (68%), with 32 of 41 adolescents (78%) having more than one complaint. The majority (31 of 38 [82%]) were overweight or obese. Features associated with the metabolic syndrome (hypertension, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and obesity) were identified in some adolescents, but were not consistently assessed. Blood pressure was assessed in 38 adolescents, fasting plasma glucose in 27, triglycerides in 22 and cholesterol in 21. Only four of 28 adolescents ( 15%) who underwent pelvic ultrasound demonstrated ovarian cysts. Investigations and management differed somewhat between endocrinologists and gynecologists. Most adolescents (34 of 41 [83%]) received pharmacological treatment: oral contraceptive pill (21 of 34 [62%]); intermittent medroxyprogesterone acetate to induce withdrawal bleeding (nine of 34 [26%]); metformin (two of 34 [6%]); or oral contraceptive pill and antiandrogen (two of 34 [6%]). CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents with PCOS are at risk of developing metabolic abnormalities. Polycystic ovaries were not a consistent finding. The most commonly prescribed treatment was the oral contraceptive pill. Greater attention should be placed on screening adolescents with PCOS for diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia, allowing for earlier identification and management of potentially modifiable cardiovascular risk factors. ©2005 Pulsus Group Inc. All rights reserved.




Orsino, A., Van Eyk, N., & Hamilton, J. (2005). Clinical features, investigations and management of adolescents with polycystic ovary syndrome. Paediatrics and Child Health. Pulsus Group Inc.

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