BACKGROUND: Heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) is a common problem that affects many British women. When initial medical treatment is unsuccessful, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends surgical options such as endometrial ablation (EA) or hysterectomy. Although clinically and economically more effective than EA, total hysterectomy necessitates a longer hospital stay and is associated with slower recovery and a higher risk of complications. Improvements in endoscopic equipment and training have made laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LASH) accessible to most gynaecologists. This operation could preserve the advantages of total hysterectomy and reduce the risk of complications.
OBJECTIVES: To compare the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of LASH with second-generation EA in women with HMB.
DESIGN: A parallel-group, multicentre, randomised controlled trial. Allocation was by remote web-based randomisation (1 : 1 ratio). Surgeons and participants were not blinded to the allocated procedure.
SETTING: Thirty-one UK secondary and tertiary hospitals.
PARTICIPANTS: Women aged < 50 years with HMB. Exclusion criteria included plans to conceive; endometrial atypia; abnormal cytology; uterine cavity size > 11 cm; any fibroids > 3 cm; contraindications to laparoscopic surgery; previous EA; and inability to give informed consent or complete trial paperwork.
INTERVENTIONS: LASH compared with second-generation EA.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Co-primary clinical outcome measures were (1) patient satisfaction and (2) Menorrhagia Multi-Attribute Quality-of-Life Scale (MMAS) score at 15 months post randomisation. The primary economic outcome was incremental cost (NHS perspective) per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained.
RESULTS: A total of 330 participants were randomised to each group (total n = 660). Women randomised to LASH were more likely to be satisfied with their treatment than those randomised to EA (97.1% vs. 87.1%) [adjusted difference in proportions 0.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.05 to 0.15; adjusted odds ratio (OR) from ordinal logistic regression (OLR) 2.53, 95% CI 1.83 to 3.48; p < 0.001]. Women randomised to LASH were also more likely to have the best possible MMAS score of 100 (68.7% vs. 54.5%) (adjusted difference in proportions 0.13, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.23; adjusted OR from OLR 1.87, 95% CI 1.31 to 2.67; p = 0.001). Serious adverse event rates were low and similar in both groups (4.5% vs. 3.6%). There was a significant difference in adjusted mean costs between LASH (£2886) and EA (£1282) at 15 months, but no significant difference in QALYs. Based on an extrapolation of expected differences in cost and QALYs out to 10 years, LASH cost an additional £1362 for an average QALY gain of 0.11, equating to an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of £12,314 per QALY. Probabilities of cost-effectiveness were 53%, 71% and 80% at cost-effectiveness thresholds of £13,000, £20,000 and £30,000 per QALY gained, respectively.
LIMITATIONS: Follow-up data beyond 15 months post randomisation are not available to inform cost-effectiveness.
CONCLUSION: LASH is superior to EA in terms of clinical effectiveness. EA is less costly in the short term, but expected higher retreatment rates mean that LASH could be considered cost-effective by 10 years post procedure.
FUTURE WORK: Retreatment rates, satisfaction and quality-of-life scores at 10-year follow-up will help to inform long-term cost-effectiveness.
TRIAI REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN49013893.
FUNDING: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 23, No. 53. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.