Video: AAGL Study Finds Women Still in the Dark about Minimally Invasive Treatments for Pelvic Health Disorders

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 General News
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CYPRESS, Calif., Aug. 13 A new awareness study found thatvirtually all women expect their OB/GYN to inform them about minimallyinvasive treatments for common pelvic health disorders (PHDs), yetcomparatively few are aware of the newer treatments designed to cause lesspain and provide shorter recoveries. Russell Research conducted the study forAAGL, the preeminent organization of gynecologic endoscopic surgeons.

"I expect my OB/GYN to tell me about the least invasive treatments, evenif he or she doesn't offer them and would need to refer me to someone else,"was the near-universal assumption (98%). Women expect their gynecologist tooffer them treatment options with the least amount of pain (98%) and toconsider how treatment will affect their lifestyle -- factors such as recoverytime, lost wages and additional child care costs (94%).

The survey results revealed that women's expectations are not being met:

-- Endometrial ablation is over 90 percent effective in providing relieffrom heavy menstrual bleeding, but less than half of those suffering fromheavy bleeding had ever heard of it.

-- Myomectomy, a minimally invasive procedure for removing fibroids,relieves heavy bleeding due to fibroids in 90 percent of cases. Only 45percent of women with fibroids were aware of this option.

-- Sling procedures are effective in treating women with mild to moderateStress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and in some cases can be performed on anoutpatient basis with no incisions. Two-thirds of those with SUI had neverheard of sling procedures.

"This survey confirms what we have long suspected -- that women with PHDsare not being fully informed about the range of available treatment options,"said Charles E. Miller, MD, President of AAGL. "When half of women sufferingfrom a given condition are unaware that they may be candidates for a minimallyinvasive procedure that spares them pain, time and disruption of their lives,there is a clear need for stronger efforts in patient education."

Women did agree however, that they should be more proactive by asking foralternatives (97%) and are quite likely to pursue a second opinion if theythink they may be a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure that theirown doctor does not offer (90%).

Four types of PHDs are prevalent among women of childbearing age: stressurinary incontinence or SUI; abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding; fibroids(non-cancerous uterine growths); and pelvic organ prolapse (when female organsshift position due to weakened muscles). In this survey, one out of every twowomen reported experiencing one or more PHD.

Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and sometimes the ovaries andfallopian tubes) continues to be the procedure most commonly used for PHDsother than SUI. The most common type of hysterectomy is the total abdominalhysterectomy or TAH, which is performed through an open abdominal incision andcarries all the normal risks of major surgery such as bleeding, infection andanesthesia.

Less than four women in ten realized that TAH is associated with a threeto six-day hospitalization, a four to six-inch scar, and a long and painfulrecovery period of a month to six weeks.

In contrast to a TAH, a laparoscopic hysterectomy is a minimally invasivetechnique that can be done on an outpatient basis and enables most women toresume normal activities within a week. Less than half of the women surveyedwere aware that this option exists.

Even fewer (40%) were aware that other minimally invasive treatments mightlet them avoid hysterectomy or open surgery altogether.

Historically doctors have been the number one source of information forwomen's health, but in this survey the Internet was on a par with doctors as apreferred source of information about gynecologic minimally invasiveprocedures. Forty-two percent and 43 percent cited the Inter

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