About 20 percent of hysterectomies may be unnecessary
Hysterectomy is the second most common female surgery in the U.S. and a new study, published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, finds that not all those women may need it.
A hysterectomy is the removal of all or part of the uterus, with some surgeries also removing their cervix and ovaries. Currently, around 68 percent of hysterectomies for benign conditions are a result of abnormal uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids and endometriosis. While the number of hysterectomies performed in the U.S. is dropping, more than 400,000 women still undergo the surgery every year. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists do recommend women attempt alternative treatments for benign gynecologic disease before doing a hysterectomy.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School studied medical records of 3,397 women over 10 months in 2013 from 52 Michigan hospitals. These cases were women who had a hysterectomy because of benign gynecological disease, such as uterine fibroids, abnormal uterine bleeding, endometriosis and pelvic pain.
The findings showed 37.7 percent of these patients had no record of ever receiving alternative treatment before undergoing surgery. Less than 30 percent had medical therapy before the surgery, and 24 percent had minor surgical procedures before the hysterectomy.
Moreover, the pathological results revealed about one in five of the women did not need the hysterectomy. This was more common in women under 40, with 37.8 percent, followed by 12 percent of women aged 40 to 50 and 7.5 percent of women older than 50. Women exhibiting chronic pain and endometriosis had the most common cases of unsupportive pathology.
The study says more alternative treatments should be used for benign gynecologic disease before hysterectomy is considered, and would help prevent potentially negative outcomes for the patients and reduce health care costs.