Uterine artery embolization vs hysterectomy in the treatment of symptomatic uterine fibroids: 10-year outcomes from the randomized EMMY trial

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Dec;215(6):745.e1-745.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.06.051. Epub 2016 Jul 5.


Background: Since 1995 uterine artery embolization has been described as an alternative for hysterectomy in patients with symptomatic fibroids. Many studies including several randomized controlled trials established uterine artery embolization as a valuable treatment. These randomized controlled trials reported outcomes in terms of health-related quality of life, clinical outcomes, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness after 1, 2, and 5 years of follow-up.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare clinical outcome and health-related quality of life 10 years after uterine artery embolization or hysterectomy in the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding caused by uterine fibroids in a randomized controlled trial.

Study design: In all, 28 Dutch hospitals recruited patients with symptomatic uterine fibroids who were eligible for hysterectomy. Patients were 1:1 randomly assigned to uterine artery embolization or hysterectomy. The outcomes assessed at 10 years postintervention were reintervention rates, health-related quality of life, and patient satisfaction, which were obtained through validated questionnaires. Study outcomes were analyzed according to original treatment assignment (intention to treat).

Results: A total of 177 patients were randomized from 2002 through 2004. Eventually 81 uterine artery embolization and 75 hysterectomy patients underwent the allocated treatment shortly after randomization. The remaining patients withdrew from the trial. The 10-year questionnaire was mailed when the last included patient had been treated 10 years earlier. The mean duration of follow-up was 133 months (SD 8.58) accompanied by a mean age of 57 years (SD 4.53). Questionnaires were received from 131 of 156 patients (84%). Ten years after treatment, 5 patients underwent secondary hysterectomy resulting in a total of 28 of 81 (35%) (24/77 [31%] after successful uterine artery embolization). Secondary hysterectomies were performed for persisting symptoms in all cases but 1 (for prolapse). After the initial treatment health-related quality of life improved significantly. After 10 years, generic health-related quality of life remained stable, without differences between both groups. The urogenital distress inventory and the defecation distress inventory showed a decrease in both groups, probably related to increasing age, without significant differences between study arms. Satisfaction in both groups remained comparable. The majority of patients declared being (very) satisfied about the received treatment: 78% of the uterine artery embolization group vs 87% in the hysterectomy group.

Conclusion: In about two thirds of uterine artery embolization-treated patients with symptomatic uterine fibroids a hysterectomy can be avoided. Health-related quality of life 10 years after uterine artery embolization or hysterectomy remained comparably stable. Uterine artery embolization is a well-documented and less invasive alternative to hysterectomy for symptomatic uterine fibroids on which eligible patients should be counseled.

Keywords: hysterectomy; long-term follow-up; myoma; quality of life; randomized trial; uterine artery embolization; uterine fibroids.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy / economics
  • Hysterectomy / methods*
  • Leiomyoma / complications
  • Leiomyoma / therapy*
  • Menorrhagia / etiology
  • Menorrhagia / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Retreatment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uterine Artery Embolization / economics
  • Uterine Artery Embolization / methods*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / complications
  • Uterine Neoplasms / therapy*