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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910On-line version ISSN 1518-8787

Rev. Saúde Pública vol.52  São Paulo  2018  Epub Mar 12, 2018 

Original Article

Costs and mortality rates of surgical approaches to hysterectomy in Brazil

Kathiane Lustosa AugustoI 

Aline Veras Morais BrilhanteII 

Gisele Cristine Duarte ModestoIII 

Dayana Maia SaboiaIV 

Cássia Fernandes Coelho RochaIV 

Sara Arcanjo Lino KarbageV 

Thaís Fontes de MagalhãesVI 

Leonardo Robson Pinheiro Sobreira BezerraV 

IUniversidade Federal do Ceará. Faculdade de Medicina. Maternidade Escola Assis Chateaubriand. Fortaleza, CE, Brasil

IIUniversidade de Fortaleza. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Saúde Coletiva. Fortaleza, CE, Brasil

IIIMaternidade Escola Assis Chateaubriand. Universidade Federal do Ceará. Fortaleza, CE, Brasil

IVUniversidade Federal do Ceará. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Enfermagem. Fortaleza, CE, Brasil

VUniversidade Federal do Ceará. Faculdade de Medicina. Maternidade Escola Assis Chateaubriand. Fortaleza, CE, Brasil

VIUniversidade Federal do Ceará. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Clínico-Cirúrgicas. Fortaleza, CE, Brasil



To analyze the costs of hysterectomies performed in Brazil due to benign conditions, and to assess its hospital admittance and mortality rates.


A retrospective cohort was carried out from January 2010 to December 2014, analyzing all hysterectomies (n = 428,346) registered on the DATASUS database between January 2010 and December 2014. Data were collected through a structured questionnaire and analyzed using the SPSS 20.0 for Windows.


Hospital admissions were 300,231 for total abdominal hysterectomies, 46,056 for vaginal hysterectomies, 29,959 for subtotal abdominal hysterectomies and 1,522 for laparoscopic hysterectomies. Mortality rates were 0.26%, 0.09%, 0.07% and 0.05% for subtotal, total abdominal, laparoscopic, and vaginal hysterectomies, respectively. Among the procedures studied, total abdominal hysterectomies had the most costs (R$217,802,574.77), followed by vaginal hysterectomies (R$24,173,490.00), subtotal abdominal hysterectomies (R$19.253.300,00) and laparoscopic hysterectomies (R$794,680.40).


Total abdominal hysterectomies had the highest overall costs mainly because it was the most commonly performed technique. Mortality rates were greatest in subtotal abdominal hysterectomies; this, however, may be due to bias related to missing data in our database.

DESCRIPTORS Hysterectomy, economics; Hysterectomy, mortality; Health Care Costs; Neoplasms, prevention & control; Women's Health Services; Public Health


Technological advancements in healthcare have been associated with increasing expenses, thus raising the need for cost control strategies3. The first step in this process is to analyze the overall cost of medical procedures, as well as their cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness, aiming for the best patient care and smallest impact in economic resources6. In the Brazilian public health system (SUS), hysterectomies are the second most common surgery performed in women of reproductive age, the first being the cesarean delivery. Therefore, a study comparing cost-benefit between different hysterectomy techniques is of interest to public health and healthcare budget management.

Hysterectomies can be done transabdominally (through laparotomy), transvaginally, or in a minimally invasive fashion (with or without robotic assistance)8. Abdominal hysterectomy (AH) refers to the removal of the uterus through an incision in the inferior abdomen, and may be total (if the uterus is removed in its entirety) or subtotal (if the uterine cervix is spared). Vaginal hysterectomy refers to the removal of the uterus through the vagina, is always total, and does not require any abdominal incisions14.

Three approaches to hysterectomy for benign diseases are possible: AH, vaginal hysterectomy (VH), and laparoscopic hysterectomy (LH). The LH, in turn, has three further subdivisions: laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH), when the uterine removal is assisted by laparoscopic procedures that do not include uterine artery ligation; laparoscopic hysterectomy (LH), when the laparoscopic procedures include uterine artery ligation; and total laparoscopic hysterectomy (TLH), when there is no vaginal component and the vaginal cuff is sutured laparoscopically17.

In order to improve patient outcomes, minimally invasive surgical techniques have been developed, resulting in smaller incisions, less post-operative pain, faster recovery and return to baseline activities, and decreased surgical morbidity8. This group includes TLH, which is the detachment of the entire uterine cervix and body via the laparoscope; LAVH, when the removal of the uterus is completed through the vagina along with ligation of the cardinal ligament and suture of the vaginal cuff13; and robotic-assisted (RA) procedures, which facilitate the use of laparoscopes by allowing increased precision and ergonomics7. Although AH and VH remain the most commonly performed techniques, there has been an increase in the frequency of minimally invasive techniques in the past few years2.

Nonetheless, the choice of hysterectomy technique to be employed does not depend solely on surgical costs. Among other factors, accounting for its related morbimortality is crucial. With this in mind, this study aimed to assess the costs and mortality of surgical techniques for hysterectomies performed in Brazil, and to compare such techniques regarding public costs, mortality and hospital admission rates.


This retrospective cohort study was carried out from January 2010 to December 2014, analyzing all hysterectomies (n = 1,132,123), and analyzed all hysterectomies (abdominal, vaginal and laparoscopic) due to benign conditions performed in the Brazilian Public Health System and registered on the DATASUS database between January 2010 and December 2014.

Surgical instruments, room, and personnel cost were included as costs. Such costs include only those dispensed by the healthcare provider, that is, the Brazilian healthcare system. Out-of-pocket expenses for patients and their families were not considered.

Statistical analyses were carried out for the following categories: total procedure costs, procedure-related mortality rate, number of deaths, and number of hospital admissions. Mean and standard deviation (SD) or median and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated.

Possible associations between independent variables (LH, VH, SAH, TAH, number of hospital admissions and daily costs related to the procedure) and outcome variables (total costs of the procedure, procedure-related mortality rate, number of deaths, and number of hospital admissions) were tested. Data were also statistically analyzed in subdivisions according to geographic regions. For all tests, a p-value lesser than 5% (p < 0.05) was considered significant.

Considering the asymmetrical distribution of costs data, the nonparametric, Kruskal-Wallis test was used from SPSS 2015. The research that originated this article was carried out with a search in the database DATASUS, a public domain database. It was not characterized as a research involving human beings and does not need approval by an ethics committee.


A total of 428,346 hospital admissions due to benign hysterectomies were reported for the period studied. The most commonly used technique was open surgery (88%), followed by vaginal (12%) and laparoscopic (0.35%) approaches.

Despite the predominance of TAH seen in Figure 1, Figure 2 illustrates the increase in the number of laparoscopic procedures and the decrease in the proportion of TAH and VH performed in 2010-2013. Interestingly, in 2014, there was a slight increase in the latter two approaches and a decrease in the number of LH, when compared to the previous year.

Figure 1 Yearly number of hospital admissions related to each type of hysterectomy.LV: videolaparoscopic hysterectomy VH: vaginal hysterectomies; SAH: subtotal abdominal hysterectomies; TAH: total abdominal hysterectomies 

Figure 2 Mean cost per each patient that underwent each surgical approach, shown by year.LV: videolaparoscopic hysterectomy; VH: vaginal hysterectomies; SAH: subtotal abdominal hysterectomies; TAH: total abdominal hysterectomies 

The mean cost, per patient, for each type of surgical technique considering all years studied were R$725.45, R$642.65, R$524.87 and R$522.13 for TAH, SAH, VH and LH, respectively. This data is shown in Figure 2.

It is clear, thus, that the technique with the highest associated costs to public health was TAH, not only for being the most commonly performed procedure but also for carrying the highest cost per patient. The expenses with this type of procedure added up to R$217,802,574.77 in this five-year period. Figure 3 illustrates the sum of costs for each surgical approach, shown by year.

Figure 3 Overall costs for each surgical technique, shown per year.LV: videolaparoscopic hysterectomy VH: vaginal hysterectomies; SAH: subtotal abdominal hysterectomies; TAH: total abdominal hysterectomies 

There were no statistically significant differences between each surgical technique regarding mortality rates. The rates found for each approach between 2010-2014 were 0.06%, 0.07%, 0.09% and 0.26% for VH, LH, TAH and SAH, respectively.

After the evaluation of the data by Kruskal-Wallis test demonstrated that, in general, Brazil had no significance in relation to the cost per day of hospitalization and mortality rates for all types of hysterectomies performed in the evaluated period.

The comparison between surgical techniques demonstrated, in relation to vaginal hysterectomy compared to total abdominal hysterectomy (TAH) and abdominal subtotal (SAH), that the cost per day of hospitalization was lower vaginally (p = 0,042). The cost per day of hospitalization for laparoscopic hysterectomy was less than total hysterectomy, and subtotal abdominal had lower costs than total abdominal (p < 0,001).

Regarding the North of Brazil, there was no significant difference in cost per day of hospitalization among the techniques used, but it was between VH and TAH (p < 0,001). There was no significant difference in relation to mortality among the techniques.

In the Northeast, there was a significant difference between VH and TAH (p = 0,004) and between LH and TAH (p = 0,017). There was no significant difference in the daily cost among the other surgical techniques performed in general and in mortality rate.

The Southeast region showed a difference in the cost of hospitalization per day and the mortality rate of hysterectomies performed in general. Comparing the techniques together, in relation to videolaparoscopic hysterectomy and vaginal compared with abdominal total (p = 0,005 and p = 0,033), the first had lower costs per day of hospitalization. The mortality rate was higher when comparing abdominal total and vaginal (p = 0,012), there was no difference with the other techniques in this region.

In Midwestern Brazil, there was no difference between the rate of mortality and the cost per day of hospitalization among the surgical techniques performed.

By comparing each surgical technique among the regions of Brazil, it showed a significant difference in hospitalization costs in hysterectomies types, total abdominal and abdominal subtotal except in videolaparoscopic. The mortality rate overall was higher in TAH, there was no significance in the vaginal and subtotal, and videolaparoscopic could not be calculated due to lack of data.


This study shows substantially reduced costs for LH and VH over other hysterectomy techniques. The TAH was the most expensive approach, with the greatest financial burden to the hospital. These findings corroborate the literature regarding VH, but diverge on the costs of TAH and LH.

Lumsden et al.11 found that open abdominal hysterectomy is less expensive than LAVH. It might be worth noting that, in the Lumsden study, half of the patient cohort was lost to follow-up. In the Evaluate hysterectomy trial, a major multicenter randomized-controlled trial, Garry et al.4 compared abdominal, vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomies, and concluded that LH was not cost-effective relative to VH. The Evaluate study4 also found that LH was more expensive than AH. According to Dayaratna3, VH was the only minimally invasive type of hysterectomy that generated net hospital income. Authors found that hospital costs were larger in LH and RA hysterectomy than in HV Sculpher et al.15 also described LAVH as unlikely to be as cost-effective as VH, reporting a mean cost £401 higher than the latter.

However, Warren et al.16 found that AH and LH showed comparable costs, with patients with AH presenting longer hospital stays, and conclude that the best cost-effectiveness is seen in VH. In part, these findings are explained by the fact that, depending on the type of disposable equipment used, VH generally requires no additional specific materials when compared to LH. Hence, the cost of LH is usually significantly higher than that of VH5.

Several studies have reported no significant differences in outcomes between the different techniques of hysterectomy4,5,10,15,16, which corroborates the lack of significant differences in mortality rates described in our study.

A systematic review published in the Cochrane Database in 2009 supports the opinion that, when feasible, VH is the safest and the most cost-effective route to remove the uterus12. As a primary route of hysterectomy, VH is the method recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists1 and has been shown to be less costly than either abdominal or traditional laparoscopic approaches.

Despite such evidence, abdominal hysterectomy is still the most commonly used technique. The decrease of hysterectomy rates seen over the years is consistent with the findings reported by Jonsdottir9, who found that the frequency of AH decreased significantly from 2006 (64.7%) to 2009 (35.8%). The proportion of VH did not change significantly, but the percentage of laparoscopic cases increased from 17.7% in 2006 to 46% in 2009. In our data, however, the decrease in TAH was accompanied by a decrease in VH as well.

The total cost of laparoscopic hysterectomy and vaginal were lower when compared to other techniques and in all regions of Brazil. The mortality rate was higher when comparing abdominal total and vaginal, there was no difference with the other techniques both in the South and in the Southeast. In other regions, we could not compare for lack of reliable data. The TAH was the technique carrying the highest cost per patient. Nevertheless, this was the surgical technique most used. This finding raises important questions for public health and development control strategies.


1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 444: choosing the route of hysterectomy for benign disease. Obstet Gynecol. 2009;114(5):1156-8. ]

2. Costa AAR, Amorim MMR, Cursino T. Histerectomia vaginal versus histerectomia abdominal em mulheres sem prolapso genital, em maternidade-escola do Recife: ensaio clínico randomizado. Rev Bras Ginecol Obstet. 2003;25(3):169-76. ]

3. Dayaratna S, Goldberg J, Harrington C, Leiby BE, McNeil JM. Hospital costs of total vaginal hysterectomy compared with other minimally invasive hysterectomy. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014;210(2);120.e1-6. ]

4. Garry R, Fountain J, Mason S, Hawe J, Napp V, Abbott J, et al. The eVALuate study: two parallel randomised trials, one comparing laparoscopic with abdominal hysterectomy, the other comparing laparoscopic with vaginal hysterectomy. BMJ. 2004;328(7432):129. ]

5. Goolab BD. Vaginal hysterectomy and relative merits over abdominal and laparoscopically assisted hysterectomy. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2013;27(3):393-413. ]

6. Haddad N, Bittar E, Marchi AF, Kantorowitz CSV, Ayoub AC, Fonseca ML, et al. Custos hospitalares da cirurgia de revascularização do miocárdio em pacientes coronarianos eletivos. Arq Bras Cardiol. 2005;88(4):418-23. ]

7. Holloway RW, Patel SD, Ahmad S. Robotic surgery in gynecology. Scand J Surg. 2009;98(2):96-109. ]

8. Jacoby VL, Autry A, Jacobson G, Domush R, Nakagawa S, Jacoby A. Nationwide use of laparoscopic hysterectomy compared with abdominal and vaginal approaches. Obstet Gynecol. 2009;114(5):1041-8. ]

9. Jonsdottir GM, Jorgensen S, Cohen SL, Wright KN, Shah NT, Chavan N, Einarsson JI. Increasing minimally invasive hysterectomy: effect on cost and complications. Obstet Gynecol. 2011;117(5):1142-9. ]

10. Lim PC, Crane JT, English EJ, Farnam RW, Garza DM, Winter ML, et al. Multicenter analysis comparing robotic, open, laparoscopic, and vaginal hysterectomies performed by high-volume surgeons for benign indications. Int J Gynecol Obstet. 2016;133(3):359-364. ]

11. Lumsden MA, Twaddle S, Hawthorn R, Traynor I, Gilmore D, Davis J, et al. A randomised comparison and economic evaluation of laparoscopic-assisted hysterectomy and abdominal hysterectomy. BJOG. 2000;107(11):1386-91. ]

12. Nieboer TE, Johnson N, Lethaby A, Tavender E, Curr E, Garry R, et al. Surgical approach to hysterectomy for benign gynaecological disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009(3):CD003677. ]

13. Reich H. Total laparoscopic hysterectomy: indications, techniques and outcomes. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2007;19(4):337-44. https// [ Links ]

14. Salinas-P H, Pastén-M J, Naranjo-D B, Carmona-G S, Retamales-M B, Díaz-V G, et al. Análisis clínico y económico de la histerectomía abdominal versus la histerectomía vaginal en el Hospital Clínico de la Universidad de Chile: revisión de 2.338 casos. Rev Chil Obstet Ginecol. 2006;71(4):227-33. ]

15. Sculpher M, Manca A, Abbott J, Fountain J, Mason S, Garry R. Cost effectiveness analysis of laparoscopic hysterectomy compared with standard hysterectomy: results from a randomised trial. BMJ. 2004;328(7432):134. ]

16. Warren L, Ladapo JA, Borah BJ, Gunnarsson CL. Open abdominal versus laparoscopic and vaginal hysterectomy: analysis of a large United States payer measuring quality and cost of care. J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2009;16(5):581-8. ]

17. Wright KN, Jonsdottir GM, Jorgensen S, Shah N, Einarsson JI. Costs and outcomes of abdominal, vaginal, laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies. JSLS. 2012;16(4):519-24. ]

Received: March 18, 2017; Accepted: April 24, 2017

Correspondence: Kathiane Lustosa Augusto, Rua Coronel Nunes de Melo, s/n Rodolfo Teófilo, 60416-000 Fortaleza, CE, Brasil. E-mail:

Authors’ Contribution: All authors contributed substantially to the design and planning, analysis and interpretation of the data, in the drafting of the manuscript, in the critical review of the content and participated in the approval of the final version of the article.

Conflict of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Creative Commons License This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.