Hysterectomies were performed 65 times more than the minimally invasive uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), which has even been proven to cost less and result in a shorter hospital stay.
“These findings suggest there is a lack of awareness about this safe, effective and less invasive therapy for uterine fibroids,” Dr. Prasoon Mohan, a University of Miami interventional radiology professor and the study’s lead author, said in a press release. “Interventional radiologists urge healthcare professionals to present patients with all available treatment options so that the patient can make an informed decision. Patients need to know about the major differences between surgical treatments and UFE, especially that this is a non-surgical treatment that preserves the uterus and has a much faster recovery time compared to a hysterectomy.”
Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that grow on the wall of the uterus, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They’re usually benign and grow as small as an apple seed to as big as a grapefruit. They are common in women who are in their 30s and 40s and those who are going through menopause. Fibroids shrink after menopause. Researchers are unsure what causes fibroids but think that it is caused by hormones or genetics.
UFE treatment involves a thin catheter being inserted into the artery at the groin or wrist. The interventional radiologist guides the catheter to the blood supply for the fibroid, and small, sand-like particles float down the bloodstream to block the blood vessel of the fibroid from receiving any nutrients. This makes the fibroid soften, shrink and bleed less. 9 out of 10 women who receive this treatment report having their symptoms disappear completely.
The study analyzed Nationwide Inpatient Sample data from 2012 and 2013 and the researchers compared how many women were treated with UFE as opposed to receiving a hysterectomy, how much it cost for the treatment and what the outcomes were.
The data showed that 165,000 more hysterectomies than UFE were performed in 2012 and 2013. 0.4% of UFEs were performed in rural and smaller hospitals whereas 9.4% of uterine fibroids was treated with a hysterectomy. 7.9% of UFE treatments were performed in small hospitals and 67.4% were performed in larger hospitals.
“The fact that so few women undergo UFE in rural and small hospital settings shows a healthcare access and education disparity in who receives this treatment. It is important that we continue to educate patients about choice and determine ways to increase access to this effective, less invasive therapy,” said Mohan, who is also an assistant professor in the department of interventional radiology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.
UFE treatment also showed that the shorter hospital stays were more cost-effective than receiving a hysterectomy – showing a $12,000 difference.
The study, titled “Nationwide analysis of hospital characteristics, demographics and cost of uterine fibroid embolization,” was published online on the Society of Interventional Radiology’s website.
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