Alternatives to hysterectomy: focus on global endometrial ablation, uterine fibroid embolization, and magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound

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The aim of this study was to inform the clinician of alternatives to hysterectomy through a critical evaluation of three treatment options: global endometrial ablation, uterine fibroid embolization, and magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound. Studies published in English-language, peer-reviewed journals were systematically searched using Cochrane and Medline. Keywords used included "alternatives to hysterectomy," "endometrial ablation," "uterine fibroid embolization," "uterine artery embolization," and "focused ultrasound." Articles meeting the inclusion criteria were reviewed and analyzed for themes and similarities. All three alternative methods of treatment reviewed are currently approved for use in the United States and abroad. In fact, five different global endometrial ablation devices are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of menorrhagia. Patient satisfaction scores after endometrial ablation are high (90%-95%), but amenorrhea rates are much lower (15%-60%). Data from randomized trials demonstrate that uterine fibroid embolization results in a shorter hospital stay and quicker return to work as compared with abdominal hysterectomy for leiomyomas, but after embolization, up to 20% of women need a second procedure. Ex-ablative therapy of leiomyomas with focused ultrasound is the newest of the three methods. It has a special set of patient selection criteria and is only available at less than 20 medical centers in the United States. Leiomyoma symptom relief after focused ultrasound therapy at 1 year post-procedure is high (85%-95%). There are many effective alternatives to hysterectomy in women with menorrhagia and/or symptomatic leiomyomas. However, because these procedures are performed by individuals from different subspecialists, primarily gynecologists and interventional radiologists, clinicians must consider using a multidisciplinary approach to find the best procedure for a given patient. There are no randomized trials comparing uterine fibroid embolization to vaginal hysterectomy, laparoscopic hysterectomy, or laparoscopic myomectomy.

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