JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Hysteroscopic tubal sterilization: an evidence-based analysis

K McMartin
Ontario Health Technology Assessment Series 2013, 13 (21): 1-35
24228084

BACKGROUND: Hysteroscopic tubal sterilization is a minimally invasive alternative to laparoscopic tubal ligation for women who want permanent contraception. The procedures involves non-surgical placement of permanent microinserts into both fallopian tubes. Patients must use alternative contraception for at least 3 months postprocedure until tubal occlusion is confirmed. Compared to tubal ligation, potential advantages of the hysteroscopic procedure are that it can be performed in 10 minutes in an office setting without the use of general or even local anesthesia.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this analysis was to determine the effectiveness and safety of hysteroscopic tubal sterilization compared with tubal ligation for permanent female sterilization.

DATA SOURCES: A standard systematic literature search was conducted for studies published from January 1, 2008, until December 11, 2012.

REVIEW METHODS: Observational studies, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses with 1 month or more of follow-up were examined. Outcomes included failure/pregnancy rates, adverse events, and patient satisfaction.

RESULTS: No RCTs were identified. Two systematic reviews covered 22 observational studies of hysteroscopic sterilization. Only 1 (N = 93) of these 22 studies compared hysteroscopic sterilization to laparoscopic tubal ligation. Two other noncomparative case series not included in the systematic reviews were also identified. In the absence of comparative studies, data on tubal ligation were derived for this analysis from the CREST study, a large, multicentre, prospective, noncomparative observational study in the United States (GRADE low). Overall, hysteroscopic sterilization is associated with lower pregnancy rates and lower complication rates compared to tubal ligation. No deaths have been reported for hysteroscopic sterilization.

LIMITATIONS: A lack of long-term follow-up for hysteroscopic sterilization and a paucity of studies that directly compare the two procedures limit this assessment. In addition, optimal placement of the microinsert at the time of hysteroscopy varied among studies.

CONCLUSIONS: Hysteroscopic sterilization is associated with: lower pregnancy rates compared to tubal ligation (GRADE very low); lower complication rates compared to tubal ligation (GRADE very low); no significant improvement in patient satisfaction compared to tubal ligation (GRADE very low).

PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY: Hysteroscopic tubal sterilization is a minimally invasive alternative to conventional tubal ligation for women who want a permanent method of contraception. Both approaches involve closing off the fallopian tubes, preventing the egg from moving down the tube and the sperm from reaching the egg. Tubal ligation is a surgical procedure to tie or seal the fallopian tubes, and it usually requires general anesthesia. In contrast, hysteroscopic tubal sterilization can be performed in 10 minutes in an office setting without general or even local anesthesia. A tiny device called a microinsert is inserted into each fallopian tube through the vagina, cervix, and uterus without surgery. An instrument called a hysteroscope allows the doctor to see inside the body for the procedure. Once the microinserts are in place, scar tissue forms around them and blocks the fallopian tubes. Health Quality Ontario conducted a review of the effectiveness and safety of hysteroscopic tubal sterilization compared to tubal ligation. This review indicates that hysteroscopic tubal sterilization is associated with: lower pregnancy rates compared to tubal ligation; lower complication rates compared to tubal ligation; no significant improvement in patient satisfaction compared to tubal ligation. However, we found a number of limitations to the studies available on hysteroscopic tubal sterilization. Among other concerns, most studies did not include long-term follow-up and only 1 study directly compared hysteroscopic tubal sterilization to tubal ligation.

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