A Complex Case: Thoracic Endo and Catamenial Pneumothorax

A Complex Case: Thoracic Endo and Catamenial Pneumothorax

For 23 years, Latia Lee struggled with periods so bad she would down double doses of Advil and Tylenol. She missed chunks of school and work every month and scheduled events and vacations around her period. But with those periods came unexplained symptoms like chest tightness, shoulder pain, and chest pain. She went on countless doctors visits to OB-GYN’s, pulmonologists and even cardiologists. Still, none had the answer to what ailed her.

That all changed in 2017, when Lee, 38, Googled endometriosis excision specialist in NYC and found world renown endometriosis specialist Dr. Tamer Seckin. “I told Dr. Seckin, I know I have pelvic endometriosis I know I have catamenial pneumothorax I know I have thoracic endometriosis—i just need you to help me.”

Catamenial pneumothorax occurs when a lung collapses in conjunction with a menstrual period. To date, Lee has suffered through four. Thoracic endometriosis occurs when there are endometriosis lesions in the thoracic cavity, which would also explain Lee’s chest tightness.

RELATED: The Woman Was Fit and Healthy, Why Did Her Lung Mysteriously Collapse?

Soon after her initial appointment, Seckin lept into action, and in January 2017, he and a team of six specialists including colorectal surgeon Dr. Parswa Ansari, Thoracic Surgeon Christos Stavropoulos, and Urologist Michael Brodherson combined their expertise to perform a 7-hour long endometriosis excision surgery.

Endometriosis lesions (as later confirmed by pathology) were found in Lee’s lungs, and diaphragm. Next, it was on to the pelvis. Seckin and his team removed endometriosis from Lee’s ureters, and endo had infiltrated her bowels so deeply that she needed a bowel resection. Endo also bound her appendix, ilium, and cecum. She needed an ileocecectomy, or removal of the ileum and part of the colon, as well as an appendectomy.

After the procedure, Seckin met with Lee and confirmed she had Stage IV Endometriosis. But he said, “If there was a Stage V or Stage VI [Endometriosis] that would be you.”

With 23 years of pain and suffering behind her, today, Lee, a registered nurse at Weill Cornell Medicine, says she feels like a new woman and is already looking forward to the next chapter.

“If I can’t have a baby,” shares Lee, “then I’ll adopt. I definitely want to be a mom.”

Lee is just one of Dr. Seckin’s patients who suffer from thoracic endometriosis and catamenial pneumothorax. New York Times Magazine recently profiled Dr. Seckin for a 5-hour long operation that he performed with Dr. Byron Patton, a thoracic surgeon, on a patient who suffered from catamenial pneumothorax so terribly she carried an oxygen tank with her.


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