The economic impact of uterine fibroids in the United States: a summary of published estimates
OBJECTIVE: To present a summary of published estimates of the economic burden of uterine fibroids in the United States and identify areas for additional research. METHODS: A search of three electronic databases, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Current Contents, was conducted, along with a review of information on the Internet and abstraction of economic data. RESULTS: Only 10 papers and 1 Internet document met our inclusion criteria and were used to abstract data. Cost estimates for surgically invasive treatments of uterine fibroids included hysterectomy (USD 5,012-7,934), myomectomy (USD 5,425-11,839), and uterine artery embolization (UAE) (USD 5,425-7,645) (2004 USD). One cost-effectiveness study estimated lower costs and higher quality-adjusted life years with UAE compared with hysterectomy. A second study estimated potential savings of USD 4.2 million in hospital charges in the United States if higher rates of vaginal (vs. abdominal) hysterectomy would be achieved after pretreatment with gonadotropin hormone-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists compared to without pretreatment with GnRH agonists (80% vs. 13%). There were no estimates of the total direct and indirect economic burden of uterine fibroids. Neither estimates of the costs for the ambulatory care of fibroids nor studies estimating the indirect costs associated with the management of fibroids and their symptoms were found. CONCLUSIONS: This summary of published U.S. economic estimates shows that despite the high prevalence of fibroids and their impact on clinical practice and women's lives, there is very little published information on their economic impact apart from data showing standard treatments for uterine fibroids are invasive and expensive. Reduction in the need for and cost of invasive procedures by the increased usage of noninvasive treatments could potentially achieve significant national cost savings, but further clinical and economic studies are needed.