Fewer women getting minimally invasive hysterectomies since FDA guidelines

A new study adds fuel to an ongoing debate over women’s healthcare: if a surgical procedure associated with dramatically fewer post-operative complications puts some patients at risk for life-threatening cancer, is it worthwhile?

Now, a study out of the University of Michigan shows that post-operative complications in hysterectomies grew significantly following that FDA alert. Hospital readmissions went up by a quarter and there was a 27 percent jump in major surgical issues, excluding blood transfusions, following hysterectomies. At the same time, the number of morcellation hysterectomies decreased by 4.1 percent and vaginal and abdominal hysterectomies increased by 1.7 and 2.4 percent, respectively. (It’s interesting to note that the decrease in morcellation was among all women undergoing hysterectomies, despite the FDA advising against using the procedure specifically on patients with fibroids.)

Following the April 2014 FDA safety communication regarding power morcellation, utilization of minimally invasive hysterectomy decreased, and major surgical, non-transfusion complications and 30-day hospital readmissions increased.

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(Dr. John Alexander Harris, University of Michigan)

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