WEDNESDAY, April 6, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Compared with normal weight women, obese women are more likely to experience bleeding and infections during and after a hysterectomy, a new study indicates.
Researchers in Denmark analyzed data from 20,353 women who had a hysterectomy to treat non-cancerous conditions such as abnormal bleeding during menstruation, benign muscle tumors and pain.
Women with a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 or more were three times more likely to experience heavy bleeding during surgery than normal weight women (BMI of 20 to 25). BMI is a measurement score that takes into account a person's height and weight.
Obese women also had a one-third increased risk for all bleeding complications (bleeding either during or after surgery, or hematoma -- where bleeding has occurred and collected) and a one-half increased risk of infection.
Further investigation revealed that some of this increased risk was influenced by the type of surgery.
"We found that the increased risk of all bleeding complications and infection associated with a high BMI were only seen in women who underwent an abdominal hysterectomy, and it was not seen in those who had either a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy. Obese women who had an abdominal hysterectomy had one and a half times the risk compared with women of the recommended BMI," Merete Osler, a consultant physician and professor of clinical databases in the Research Center for Prevention and Health and Glostrup University Hospital, said in a journal news release.
But the investigators also found that underweight women (BMI under 20) who underwent either abdominal or laparoscopic hysterectomy were more likely than normal weight women to experience bleeding, infection and to require another operation.
"Our results suggest that, whenever possible, obese women should have a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy for benign indications, while underweight women should have a vaginal hysterectomy, in order to avoid the increased risks identified in our study," Osler said.
Their findings were published in the April 5 issue of the journal Human Reproduction.
WomensHealth.gov has more about hysterectomy.