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The full text of this issue is available as a PDF document from the Toolkit section on this page.

The full text of this issue is available as a PDF document from the Toolkit section on this page.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To test the null hypothesis of no significant difference between laparoscopic hysterectomy (LH), abdominal hysterectomy (AH) and vaginal hysterectomy (VH) with regard to each of the outcome measures of the trial, and also to assess the cost-effectiveness of the alternatives.

DESIGN

Patients were allocated to either the vaginal or abdominal trial by the individual surgeon according to their usual clinical practice. After allocation patients were then randomised to receive either LH or the default procedure in an unbalanced 2:1 manner.

SETTING

Forty-three surgeons from 28 centres throughout the UK and two centres in South Africa took part in the study.

PARTICIPANTS

Patients with gynaecological symptoms that, in the opinion of the gynaecologist and the patient, justified hysterectomy.

INTERVENTIONS

Of 1380 patients recruited to the study, 876 were included in the AH trial and 504 in the VH trial. In the AH trial, 584 patients had a laparoscopic type of hysterectomy (designated ALH) and 292 had a standard AH. In the VH trial 336 had a VLH and 168 had a standard VH. A cost--utility analysis was undertaken based on a 1-year time horizon. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were estimated using the EQ-5D.

RESULTS

Compared with AH, LH was associated with a higher rate of major complications, less postoperative pain and shorter hospital stay, but took longer to perform. Securing the ovarian pedicles with laparoscopic sutures was used in only 7% of cases but was associated with 25% of the complications. At the 6 weeks postoperative point, ALH was associated with a significantly better physical component of the SF-12 (QoL questionnaire), better body image scale scores and a significantly increased frequency of sexual intercourse than AH. These differences were not observed at either 4 or 12 months after surgery. There were no significant differences in any measured outcome between LH and VH except that VLH took longer to perform and was associated with a higher rate of detecting unexpected pathology. Compared with VH, VLH had a higher mean cost per patient of GBP401 and higher mean QALYs of 0.0015, resulting in an incremental cost per QALY gained of GBP267,333. The probability that VLH is cost-effective was less than 50% for a large range of willingness to pay values for an additional QALY. Compared with AH, ALH had a higher mean cost per patient of GBP186 and higher mean QALYs of 0.007, resulting in an incremental cost per QALY gained of GBP26,571.

CONCLUSIONS

ALH is associated with a significantly higher risk of major complications and takes longer to perform than AH. ALH is, however, associated with less pain, quicker recovery and better short-term QoL after surgery than AH. The cost-effectiveness of ALH is finely balanced and is also influenced by the choice of reusable versus disposable equipment. Individual surgeons must decide between patient-orientated benefits and the risk of severe complications. VLH was not cost-effective relative to VH. Recommendations for future research include the application and relevance of QoL measures following hysterectomy, and long-term follow-up; patient preferences; reducing complication rates; improving gynaecological surgical training; surgeon effect in surgery trials; care pathways for hysterectomy; additional pathology identification in LH and meta-analysis/further trial of VH versus LH.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To test the null hypothesis of no significant difference between laparoscopic hysterectomy (LH), abdominal hysterectomy (AH) and vaginal hysterectomy (VH) with regard to each of the outcome measures of the trial, and also to assess the cost-effectiveness of the alternatives.

DESIGN

Patients were allocated to either the vaginal or abdominal trial by the individual surgeon according to their usual clinical practice. After allocation patients were then randomised to receive either LH or the default procedure in an unbalanced 2:1 manner.

SETTING

Forty-three surgeons from 28 centres throughout the UK and two centres in South Africa took part in the study.

PARTICIPANTS

Patients with gynaecological symptoms that, in the opinion of the gynaecologist and the patient, justified hysterectomy.

INTERVENTIONS

Of 1380 patients recruited to the study, 876 were included in the AH trial and 504 in the VH trial. In the AH trial, 584 patients had a laparoscopic type of hysterectomy (designated ALH) and 292 had a standard AH. In the VH trial 336 had a VLH and 168 had a standard VH. A cost--utility analysis was undertaken based on a 1-year time horizon. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were estimated using the EQ-5D.

RESULTS

Compared with AH, LH was associated with a higher rate of major complications, less postoperative pain and shorter hospital stay, but took longer to perform. Securing the ovarian pedicles with laparoscopic sutures was used in only 7% of cases but was associated with 25% of the complications. At the 6 weeks postoperative point, ALH was associated with a significantly better physical component of the SF-12 (QoL questionnaire), better body image scale scores and a significantly increased frequency of sexual intercourse than AH. These differences were not observed at either 4 or 12 months after surgery. There were no significant differences in any measured outcome between LH and VH except that VLH took longer to perform and was associated with a higher rate of detecting unexpected pathology. Compared with VH, VLH had a higher mean cost per patient of GBP401 and higher mean QALYs of 0.0015, resulting in an incremental cost per QALY gained of GBP267,333. The probability that VLH is cost-effective was less than 50% for a large range of willingness to pay values for an additional QALY. Compared with AH, ALH had a higher mean cost per patient of GBP186 and higher mean QALYs of 0.007, resulting in an incremental cost per QALY gained of GBP26,571.

CONCLUSIONS

ALH is associated with a significantly higher risk of major complications and takes longer to perform than AH. ALH is, however, associated with less pain, quicker recovery and better short-term QoL after surgery than AH. The cost-effectiveness of ALH is finely balanced and is also influenced by the choice of reusable versus disposable equipment. Individual surgeons must decide between patient-orientated benefits and the risk of severe complications. VLH was not cost-effective relative to VH. Recommendations for future research include the application and relevance of QoL measures following hysterectomy, and long-term follow-up; patient preferences; reducing complication rates; improving gynaecological surgical training; surgeon effect in surgery trials; care pathways for hysterectomy; additional pathology identification in LH and meta-analysis/further trial of VH versus LH.

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