Trends in hysterectomy rates among women veterans in the US Department of Veterans Affairs

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Oct;217(4):428.e1-428.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2017.05.057. Epub 2017 May 31.


Background: Prior studies demonstrate a higher prevalence of hysterectomy among veterans compared with nonveterans. While studies identify overall decreasing hysterectomy rates in the United States, none report rates of hysterectomy among women veterans. Given the increasing numbers of women veterans using Veterans Affairs health care, there is an ongoing need to ensure high-quality gynecology care. Therefore, it is important to examine current hysterectomy trends, including proportion of minimally invasive surgeries, among veterans using Veterans Affairs health care.

Objective: Our objective was to describe hysterectomy trends and utilization of minimally invasive hysterectomy in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system.

Study design: This longitudinal study used Veterans Affairs clinical and administrative data from fiscal year 2008 to 2014 to identify hysterectomies provided or paid for by Veterans Affairs. Crude and age-adjusted hysterectomy rates were calculated by indication (benign or malignant), mode (abdominal, laparoscopic, vaginal, robotic assisted, unspecified), and source of care (provided vs paid for by Veterans Affairs). Mode and indication for hysterectomy were classified using International Classification of Diseases, ninth revision, codes. The distribution of hysterectomy mode in each year was calculated by indication and source of care.

Results: Between fiscal year 2008 and fiscal year 2014, the total hysterectomy rate decreased from 4.0 per 1000 to 2.6 per 1000 unique women veteran Veterans Affairs users. Age-adjusted rates of abdominal hysterectomy for benign indications decreased over the study period from 1.54 per 1000 (95% confidence interval, 1.40-1.69) to 0.77 per 1000 (95% confidence interval, 0.69-0.85) for procedures provided by Veterans Affairs and 0.77 per 1,000 (95% confidence interval, 0.69-0.85) to 0.29 per 1,000 (95% confidence interval, 0.23-0.34) for those paid for by Veterans Affairs. Among hysterectomies for benign indications provided by (n = 5296) or paid for (n = 2610) by Veterans Affairs, the percentage of hysterectomies performed abdominally decreased from 67.2% to 46.8% and from 68.9% to 57.6%, respectively.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that gynecology care provided within Veterans Affairs has kept pace with national trends in reducing hysterectomy rates and increasing utilization of minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Keywords: hysterectomy; minimally invasive; women veterans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Dysmenorrhea / surgery
  • Female
  • Female Urogenital Diseases / surgery
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy / methods
  • Hysterectomy / trends*
  • Laparoscopy / trends
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures / trends
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans*
  • Young Adult