Objectives To determine the safety, cost effectiveness and effect on quality of life of laparoscopicassisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH) compared with total abdominal hysterectomy (TAH) in the management of benign gynaecological disease.

Design Randomised controlled trial and economic evaluation.

Setting Three hospitals in the West of Scotland.

Participants Two hundred women scheduled for an abdominal hysterectomy for benign gynaecological disease.

Main outcome measures Conversion rate of LAVH to TAH, complication rates, NHS resource use and costs, quality of life using EuroQol 5 D visual analogue scale, and achievement of milestones.

Results The overall incidence of operative complications was 14% in the TAH group and 8% in the LAVH group, with an 8% conversion rate. Length of operation was significantly greater in the women having LAVH at 81 ±30 min vs 47 ±16 min (P < 0.001). There was no difference in analgesic requirements between the groups although there was a significantly shorter hospital stay for those having LAVH. The rate of post-surgery recovery, satisfaction with operation and quality of life at four weeks post-operative were similar in the two groups of women. LAVH was significantly more expensive than TAH and remained more expensive for all but the most extreme scenario.

Conclusions This study demonstrates that despite the decreased length of hospital stay, LAVH is more expensive than TAH. In addition, recovery following operation and patient satisfaction were not affected by the route chosen. It is unlikely that LAVH represents an efficient use of NHS resources.