J Minim Invasive Gynecol 2010 Mar-Apr;17(2):167-75
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
Study Objective: To explore attitudes and hysterectomy practices among gynecologists in the United States and to identify potential barriers to offering minimally invasive hysterectomies.
Design: Mixed-mode (online and on-paper) survey of a random sample of 1500 practicing obstetrician-gynecologists.
Setting: Nationwide survey in the United States.
Participants: Nonretired obstetrician-gynecologists identified through a physician list from the American Medical Association.
Interventions: Postal and online survey. MEASUREMENTS & MAIN RESULTS: We received a response from 376 physicians (25.8% response rate). The average age of respondents was 47.9 years, and 87% were generalists. Participants performed on average 4 surgical cases per week and 32 hysterectomies per year, most of which were abdominal hysterectomies. When asked for preferred mode of access for themselves or their spouse, 55.5% chose vaginal hysterectomy (VH), 40.6% chose laparoscopic hysterectomy (LH), and 8% chose abdominal hysterectomy (AH). Younger physicians (<40) and high surgical volume physicians were significantly more likely to chose a laparoscopic approach and identified significantly fewer barriers for performing LH. The main barriers to performing VH were technical difficulty, potential for complications, and caseload of VH. The main barriers for performing LH were training during residency, technical difficulty, personal surgical experience and operating time. The majority of gynecologists wanted to decrease their AH rates and increase their LH rates. The most significant identified contraindications to VH were prior laparotomy, a uterus larger than 12 weeks, narrow introitus, adnexal mass, and minimal uterine descent.
Conclusions: While a large majority of gynecologists would prefer a VH or LH for themselves or their spouse, AH remains the most common hysterectomy method in the United States. A generation gap appears to be brewing with younger gynecologist more in favor of the laparoscopic approach. More emphasis should be placed on training gynecologists in performing minimally invasive hysterectomies, given their desire to change their surgical mode of access.