Objectives: To describe hysterectomies practised in 1994 and 1995: the patients, their surgery and short term outcomes.
Design: One of two large cohorts, with prospective follow up, recruited to compare the outcomes of endometrial destruction with those of hysterectomy.
Setting: England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Population: All women who had hysterectomies for non-malignant indications carried out during a 12-month period.
Methods: Gynaecologists in NHS and independent hospitals were asked to report cases. Follow up data were obtained at outpatient follow up approximately six weeks post-surgery.
Main outcome measures: Indication for surgery, method of hysterectomy, ovarian status post-surgery, surgical complications.
Results: 37,298 cases were reported which is estimated to reflect about 45% of hysterectomies performed during the period studied. The median age was 45 years, and the most common indication for surgery was dysfunctional uterine bleeding (46%). Most hysterectomies were carried out by consultants (55%). The proportions of women having abdominal, vaginal or laparoscopically-assisted hysterectomy were 67%, 30% and 3%, respectively. Forty-three percent of women had no ovaries conserved after surgery. The median length of stay was five days. The overall operative complication rate was 3.5%, and highest for the laparoscopic techniques. The overall post-operative complication rate was 9%. One percent of these was regarded as severe, with the highest rate for severe in the laparoscopic group (2%). There were no operative deaths; 14 deaths were reported within the six-week post-operative period: a crude mortality rate soon after surgery of 0.38 per thousand (95% CI 0.25-0.64).
Conclusions: This large study describes women who undergo hysterectomy in the UK, and presents results on early complications associated with the surgery. Operative complications occurred in one in 30 women, and post-operative complications in at least one in 10. Laparoscopic techniques tend to be associated with higher complication rates than other methods.