For decades, according to the researchers, hormone pills or hysterectomy, surgical removal of the uterus, were the standard treatments for excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding. The new, less invasive procedure GEA preserves the uterus, while decreasing menstrual bleeding and shortening patients' recovery time. During GEA, surgeons use an energy source (heat, cold and microwave or radiofrequency energy) to destroy just the uterine lining (endometrium) and leave the uterus intact.
Compared to hysterectomy, the newest forms of GEA were initially thought to be equally effective with slightly lower complication rates and costs. "But some physicians have observed that up to 30 percent of patients may require additional treatment five years and beyond after undergoing ablation," says Abimbola Famuyide, one of the study's authors.
The researchers note that much of the medical research citing failure rates associated with GEA had relatively small study populations. To establish more precise data measuring how many women do not experience permanent symptom relief following GEA, they studied the medical records of approximately 816 women who underwent ablation from 1998 to 2005.
"We found that only 16 percent of our subjects required hysterectomy to treat excessive bleeding five years after ablation. That is nearly half of what has generally been reported in the literature to date," explains Famuyide.
The researchers hypothesised that the low failure rate they observed might mean that their study patients received counselling about realistic expectations for symptom relief. "For example, patients who are seeking complete cessation of menstrual bleeding after GEA are more likely to undergo hysterectomy later to treat bleeding symptoms of any severity," says Famuyide.
The research data also showed that patients under age 45, patients who have undergone tubal ligation (a procedure to prevent pregnancy), and patients who experienced debilitating menstrual pain before undergoing GEA were less likely to experience permanent symptom relief following ablation.
MEDICA.de; Source: Mayo Clinic