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University of Michigan Study Finds Overuse in Hysterectomies

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

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A new study conducted by the University of Michigan has found that, although the number of hysterectomies is decreasing, women are still getting them when they don’t need to. The study also found that alternatives to hysterectomy are being underutilized.

About Hysterectomies

These surgeries, which remove all or part of the uterus, are among the most common significant operations that women undergo in the U.S. It’s estimated that one in three women in the U.S. will undergo a hysterectomy by the age of 60; that comes out to more than 400,000 hysterectomies being performed per year in this country.

Currently, about 68 percent of these surgeries are done for benign conditions, which include uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. A previous study had determined that in 2010, 36.4 percent fewer hysterectomies were performed in 2010 than in 2002, which means that the popularity of hysterectomies is certainly decreasing.

Findings

This study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, focused on 3,997 women. It examined medical records and looked at data from 10 months in 2013 from 51 Michigan hospitals. The results indicate that 18 percent of women who had a hysterectomy for benign conditions may not have needed it – and a pathology analysis for 38% of women under 40 did not support undergoing a hysterectomy at all.

Among the findings: nearly fewer than 30 percent of women received medical therapy, and alternative treatment was considered more strongly among women under age 40 and women with larger uteri. In general, the older the woman, the more a hysterectomy was supported by the pathology and the less likely it was for alternative treatments to be considered.

Study Recommendations

What’s clear from the findings of the study is that both patients and doctors need to consider alternatives to hysterectomy more often. In any case, it’s always advisable to know all the options that are available before committing to potentially unnecessary surgery.

And there are alternatives to hysterectomies that may be less invasive and less risky, but which could do the job just as well. These include hormonal management, the insertion of IUDs, operative hysteroscopy (a minimally invasive gynecological procedure), and endometrial ablation (a procedure that destroys the uterine lining).

This study on the overuse of hysterectomies shows that there’s some work to be done. The trend is improving, in that hysterectomies are decreasing, but gynecologists and their patients should try to be proactive in finding other ways to manage non-cancerous uterine problems without removing women’s healthy reproductive organs.

To find out if hysterectomy is right for you, contact  Dr. Tsakiris to schedule an appointment.