In the News

Route of Hysterectomy, Abdominal, Laparoscopic, or Vaginal, Which approach is right?

by | November 17th, 2010

AAGL Recommends Vaginal or Laparoscopic Approach for Hysterectomies

The American Academy of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) recommends minimally invasive surgical approaches such as vaginal hysterectomy (VH) and laparoscopic hysterectomy (LH) for benign uterine disease, according to a position statement published online November 7 in the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology.

“When procedures are required to treat gynecologic disorders, the AAGL is committed to the principles of informed patient choice and provision of minimally invasive options,” said Franklin D. Loffer, MD, executive vice president/medical director of the AAGL, in a news release. “When hysterectomy is necessary, the demonstrated safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of VH and LH mandate that they be the procedures of choice. When hysterectomy is performed without a laparotomy, early institutional discharge is feasible and safe, in many cases within the first 24 hours.”

In the United States, approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed every year for benign disorders of the pelvis, and more than two thirds are performed via an abdominal approach. In some countries, however, as few as 24% of hysterectomies are performed abdominally.

To lower morbidity risk and speed recovery, the AAGL recommends a vaginal or laparoscopic approach to hysterectomy for benign disease. Surgical risks are low for these minimally invasive procedures, which can often be done as an outpatient procedure or with a short hospital stay.

In contrast, the relatively large abdominal incision needed for abdominal hysterectomy (AH) may result in more complications, particularly associated with abdominal wound infections, leading to longer hospitalization and disability before normal activities can be resumed.

Obesity and a previous cesarean delivery were once thought to be contraindications to LH. However, the safety and efficacy of LH are similar in obese and nonobese patients, although operative times are longer in obese patients. Compared with other techniques, LH may be associated with an increased risk for cystotomy, but overall risk is low. The AAGL recommends that previous cesarean delivery should no longer be considered a contraindication to either VH or LH.

Even when the uterus is large, a number of surgeons can feasibly and safely perform VH. LH appears to be a safe alternative preserving most of the advantages of VH vs AH, and it can be performed when uterine size or other coexisting disease or surgical considerations preclude performance of VH.

Direct costs of either VH or LH are less than those of AH, but institutional costs of LH may be higher vs VH depending on what instrumentation is used. Compared with AH, LH appears to reduce indirect costs of hysterectomy by 50%, based on high-quality evidence from several randomized controlled trials.

In several oncologic studies, LH vs AH has been shown to lower morbidity risk without compromising clinical efficacy in women with cervical or endometrial carcinoma.

“Given the advantages that VH and LH offer to women, their families, their employers, and the health care system in general, it seems desirable to optimize their application in women requiring hysterectomy because of benign uterine conditions,” the authors of the position statement write. “Abdominal hysterectomy should be reserved for the minority of women for whom a laparoscopic or vaginal approach is not appropriate. These situations are not common.”

Women in whom LH is not appropriate may include the following:

  • Those with cardiopulmonary disease or other medical conditions in which the risks are unacceptable, either for general anesthesia or for increased intraperitoneal pressure associated with laparoscopy.
  • Those in whom morcellation, or cutting the tumor into pieces before removal, is known or likely to be required and uterine malignancy is either known or suspected.

Situations in which LH and VH are not appropriate may include the following:

  • Although hysterectomy is indicated, there is no access to the surgeons or facilities needed for VH or LH, and referral is not feasible.
  • Surgeons expert in either VH or LH techniques consider the vaginal or laparoscopic approach to be unsafe or unreasonable because of uterine disease or adhesions significantly distorting the anatomy.

“It is the position of the AAGL that most hysterectomies for benign disease should be performed either vaginally or laparoscopically and that continued efforts should be taken to facilitate these approaches,” the authors of the position statement write. “Surgeons without the requisite training and skills required for the safe performance of VH or LH should enlist the aid of colleagues who do or should refer patients requiring hysterectomy to such individuals for their surgical care.”

J Minim Invasive Gynecol. Published online November 7, 2010.

Laurie Barclay, MD For original article, click Here.

J. Kyle Mathews, MD

Plano OB Gyn Associates

Plano Urogynecology Associates.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Category: Gynecology, News & Education, Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery & Urogynecology |


Dr. J. Kyle Mathews is an expert in the field of Urogynecology, minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery, and reconstructive gynecologic surgery. Dr. Mathews is board certified and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the American College of Surgeons. With over two decades of experience, Dr. Mathews is one of the most experienced surgeons in north Texas.

Leave a Reply



3108 Midway Road, Suite 200
Plano Texas 75093