Nearly 1 in 5 hysterectomies are unnecessary, according to new study

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Medical DoctorHysterectomy involves the surgical removal of the uterus, and is the second most commonly performed surgery among American women after cesarean section. Each year, more than 400,000 women have hysterectomies, and it is estimated that one in three women in the US will have a hysterectomy by the age of 60. But according to a new study, 1 in 5 hysterectomies are unnecessary. The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The most common reasons for doing a hysterectomy include bleeding, fibroids, and endometriosis.

Lead author Dr. Daniel M. Morgan and colleagues at the University of Michigan set out to assess how often alternative treatments were used prior to hysterectomies in women who were not facing life-threatening conditions. Medical records for almost 3,400 women who underwent hysterectomies for benign conditions were examined. The records were collected from 52 hospitals in Michigan in 2013.

Nearly 40 percent of the women studied did not have documentation of an alternative treatment before their hysterectomy. Before the procedure, fewer than 30 percent got any medical therapy, and less than 35 percent underwent other minor surgical procedures. Also, almost 40 percent of women under age 40 had pathologic findings that did not support performance of a hysterectomy, compared to 12 percent of women aged 40-50 years and almost 8 percent of women over 40 years.

Dr. Morgan states that these findings provide evidence that alternatives to hysterectomy are underutilized in women undergoing hysterectomy for abnormal uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, endometriosis or pelvic pain.