Holly Bridges, Patient. Author. Advocate. "Helping Women Make Informed Choices"

Holly Bridges, Patient. Author. Advocate.

May 29, 2012 12:00 ET

Canadian Rural Women at Higher Risk for Hysterectomy

Less invasive options not always explained or offered

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 29, 2012) - A controversial new book about hysterectomy, the most common major surgical procedure performed on Canadian women (second only to Caesarean section), reveals rural women who live away from major teaching hospitals have nearly double the hysterectomy rate of their urban counterparts. The statistic comes from The UNHysterectomy, by Holly Bridges, former CBC Radio and TV journalist-turned-patient-advocate.

The UNHysterectomy, Solving Your Painful, Heavy Bleeding Without Major Surgery, reveals a 60 percent variation in hysterectomy rates between provinces and a rate for rural women that is 46 percent higher than the national average. The statistics were taken from patient interviews and surveys done by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

"The variation in rates is not a function of disease or illness, but rather a difference in the type of care being dispensed to women, as well as very limited access to gynecologists who perform less invasive procedures," says Bridges. "When a woman is suffering from Abnormal Uterine Bleeding and wants relief now, it's often easier and faster for her to have a hysterectomy, rather than travelling back and forth for a year or more to try to find a doctor who specializes in less invasive medical or surgical alternatives."

In the chapter "How to access these procedures no matter where you live", Bridges outlines tips for rural women on how to access minimally invasive gynecological surgeries, including less invasive hysterectomies. The tips include applying under Section 12a of the Canada Health Act to travel to another Canadian city for treatment.

Bridges worked for CBC in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Belleville and Prince Edward Island. She now lives in Ottawa as a writer and patient advocate.

The UNHysterectomy. Solving Your Painful, Heavy Bleeding Without Major Surgery was edited by world-renowned gynecologist Dr. Sony Singh, BSc, MD, FRCSC.

About hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is the complete or partial removal of the uterus, and sometimes ovaries, cervix and Fallopian tubes. Although rates have been falling in recent years, some 50,000 Canadian women undergo hysterectomy every year, mostly for uterine fibroids, polyps, cysts, endometriosis, adenomyosis and cancer.

Despite national surgical guidelines recommending keyhole (laparoscopic) approaches, 54 percent of hysterectomies involve making deep, abdominal cuts. In contrast, minimally invasive gynecological surgery requires fewer incisions, carries a lower risk of organ perforation, requires little or no anesthetic and leads to a faster recovery and return to normal activities.

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