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Cost-effectiveness of treatments for heavy menstrual bleeding

      Background

      Heavy menstrual bleeding affects up to one third of women in the United States, resulting in a reduced quality of life and significant cost to the health care system. Multiple treatment options exist, offering different potential for symptom control at highly variable initial costs, but the relative value of these treatment options is unknown.

      Objective

      The objective of the study was to evaluate the relative cost-effectiveness of 4 treatment options for heavy menstrual bleeding: hysterectomy, resectoscopic endometrial ablation, nonresectoscopic endometrial ablation, and the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system.

      Study Design

      We formulated a decision tree evaluating private payer costs and quality-adjusted life years over a 5 year time horizon for premenopausal women with heavy menstrual bleeding and no suspected malignancy. For each treatment option, we used probabilities derived from literature review to estimate frequencies of minor complications, major complications, and treatment failure resulting in the need for additional treatments. Treatments were compared in terms of total average costs, quality-adjusted life years, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was conducted to understand the range of possible outcomes if model inputs were varied.

      Results

      The levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system had superior quality-of-life outcomes to hysterectomy with lower costs. In a probabilistic sensitivity analysis, levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system was cost-effective compared with hysterectomy in the majority of scenarios (90%). Both resectoscopic and nonresectoscopic endometrial ablation were associated with reduced costs compared with hysterectomy but resulted in a lower average quality of life. According to standard willingness-to-pay thresholds, resectoscopic endometrial ablation was considered cost effective compared with hysterectomy in 44% of scenarios, and nonresectoscopic endometrial ablation was considered cost effective compared with hysterectomy in 53% of scenarios.

      Conclusion

      Comparing all trade-offs associated with 4 possible treatments of heavy menstrual bleeding, the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system was superior to both hysterectomy and endometrial ablation in terms of cost and quality of life. Hysterectomy is associated with a superior quality of life and fewer complications than either type of ablation but at a higher cost. For women who are unwilling or unable to choose the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system as a first-course treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding, consideration of cost, procedure-specific complications, and patient preferences can guide the decision between hysterectomy and ablation.

      Key words

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