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Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2005 Jun;19(3):431-49. Epub 2005 Feb 12.

Alternative medical and surgical options to hysterectomy.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St George's Healthcare NHS Trust, Blackshaw Road, Tooting, London SW17 0QT, UK.


The range of alternatives to hysterectomy includes 'expanded' oral medical regimens, the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS), a wide range of endometrial ablative techniques, and-where fibroids are the primary pathology-myomectomy and uterine artery embolization. Since research has shown that hysterectomy is a highly effective treatment, these alternatives must be assessed against the recognized high satisfaction rates and improved quality of life reported following hysterectomy. Additional issues that would also need to be addressed include complication rates, side-effects, and cost-effectiveness. For women with prolonged abnormal uterine bleeding, recent research suggests that hysterectomy is significantly superior to an expanded medical treatment regimen for health-related quality-of-life measures. Satisfaction with treatment, and health-related quality of life and psychosocial well-being, are reportedly similar between hysterectomy and the LNG-IUS, but the latter has the advantage of reduced cost. Endometrial ablation reduces menstrual blood flow, but its benefits relative to hysterectomy lessen over time. No large-scale studies have adequately compared uterine artery embolization or myomectomy to hysterectomy. Perhaps the most telling finding from recent research with respect to the place of alternative therapies to hysterectomy is that the existence or advent of these alternatives has not reduced hysterectomy rates, but merely increased treatment options and interventions for excessive menstrual loss.

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