hysterectomies still being performed |
NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters Health) -- As many as 70% of hysterectomies performed in the US may be recommended inappropriately, results of a recent study suggest.
The hysterectomy -- a removal of the uterus -- is the second most common major operation that women get and "there are significant concerns among researchers and the public that it might be overused," according to study co-author Dr. Michael S. Broder of the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues.
The researchers looked at nearly 500 women who had hysterectomies that were not the result of emergency or cancer. Operations were performed in 1 of 9 medical groups in Southern California, over a 2-year period.
About 70% of cases "were judged to be recommended inappropriately," the investigators report.
For example, many of the women did not have an adequate evaluation of the cause of their medical problems. This might have included a laparoscopy to help determine the cause of pelvic pain, or sampling of the uterine lining to determine the cause of abnormal bleeding.
Many women also failed to try alternative treatments, such as medication, before their surgery.
Sixty percent of hysterectomies were recommended due to fibroids (benign tumors that commonly occur in middle-aged women), 11% due to pelvic relaxation, 9% due to pain, and 8% due to bleeding.
"We found that the care leading to recommendations of hysterectomies in our cohort was suboptimal," Broder and colleagues conclude in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The authors note that their study results may not be applicable to all women who undergo hysterectomy. They only looked at women from one geographic region and they did not compare the study subjects with women who had similar gynecologic conditions but did not undergo hysterectomy.
The findings do suggest that women and their doctors should work together to determine the cause of symptoms such as pain or bleeding, and explore alternative treatments before resorting to hysterectomy, Broder's team adds.
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