The case against endometrial ablation for treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Endometrial ablation is a common treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding, but serious limitations and long-term complications exist. Our purpose is to summarize the use of endometrial ablation devices, potential short-term and long-term complications, cost effectiveness, and quality of life in relation to alternative treatments.

Recent findings

There is insufficient evidence to strongly recommend one endometrial ablation device over another. Providers should consider and discuss with their patients, complications including risk of future pregnancy, endometrial cancer, and hysterectomy for continued bleeding or pain. Patient selection is key to reducing postablation pain and failure; patients with a history of tubal ligation and dysmenorrhea should consider alternative treatments. All patients should also be counseled that the levonorgestrel intrauterine device is a cost-effective alternative with higher quality of life and fewer complications. Hysterectomy is definitive treatment with higher quality of life and fewer complications.

Summary

Although endometrial ablation can offer adequate symptom control for patients who have failed medical therapy, desire uterine preservation, or who are high-risk surgical candidates, patients should be appropriately selected and counseled regarding the potential for treatment failure and long-term complications.

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