A Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove the uterus (womb) through an incision in the lower abdomen or vagina. A Hysterectomy is a surgical treatment option for a number of diseases and conditions. A Hysterectomy may be performed if a patient suffers from cancer of the uterus or ovaries or hemorrhage (uncontrollable bleeding) of the uterus. Other conditions treated through undergoing a Hysterectomy include Fibroids, Endometriosis, Prolapse, Chronic Pelvic Pain and Preventative Cancer Surgery. Having a Hysterectomy ends the ability for a patient to become pregnant. If a patient hopes to one day carry a child, they should ask their doctor about alternatives to this procedure. In the case of cancer and uncontrollable bleeding, a hysterectomy might be the only option available. If a patient is considering a Hysterectomy for another condition, including Fibroids, Prolapse or Pelvic Pain, the patient may be able to attempt less invasive treatments first.
When undergoing a Hysterectomy, other organs that surround the uterus may also be removed to properly treat the condition. These organs may include the cervix, ovaries and/or fallopian tubes. The patient’s medical history and reasoning for the operation will help determine the doctor’s decision as to what type of hysterectomy is the best option. There are several varieties of Hysterectomy procedures, including:
The removal of just the uterus
The removal of the uterus and the cervix.
Total Hysterectomy with Salpingo-Oophorectomy:
The removal of the uterus and cervix, as well as one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes.
The procedure can be performed using several different methods, depending on each individual patient’s circumstances. Hysterectomy can be performed through an incision in the vagina (Vaginal Hysterectomy) or by an incision in the abdomen (Abdominal Hysterectomy).
This method allows for removal of the uterus through the vagina. This incision is often used for prolapse, early cases of cervical cancer and in patients when the uterus is not swollen or enlarged. A Vaginal Hysterectomy often causes less pain and may result in a faster recovery than an Abdominal Hysterectomy. A Laparoscopic Hysterectomy might be used in combination with a Vaginal Hysterectomy. When using a laparoscopic or robotic surgical approach, the surgeon uses long, thin instruments passed through small abdominal incisions. This allows for the uterus to be detached from inside the body by the laparoscopic instruments while the doctor looks at the pelvic organs through a small camera attached to a telescope. After the uterus is detached, it is removed through a small incision at the top of the vagina.
An Abdominal Hysterectomy may be recommended above a Vaginal Hysterectomy for several reasons, including if the patient has a large uterus or if the doctor wants to check other pelvic organs for signs of disease. This method is often used when treating large pelvic tumors, adhesions or cancer. The uterus is removed through an incision in the abdomen, either as a midline or bikini cut. An Abdominal Hysterectomy is often associated with a longer hospital stay and recovery time, as well as greater pain and discomfort following the surgery.
Hysterectomy recovery times may vary. If a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy method was used, the patient may be able to be discharged from the hospital within one to four days following the procedure. If the patient underwent an Abdominal Hysterectomy, it can take up to five days before they are discharged.
On average it takes about six to eight weeks to fully recover after having an abdominal hysterectomy. Recovery times are often shorter after a vaginal or laparoscopy hysterectomy. During this recovery time, patients are instructed to rest as much as possible and not lift anything heavy, as the abdominal muscles and the surrounding tissues need time to heal.
As with any surgery, there is a slight chance that problems may occur. Complications of a hysterectomy include infection, pain and bleeding in the surgical area. Other problems may include blood clots, bowel blockage, urinary tract injury, or problems related to anesthesia.
Call your doctor immediately if you are experiencing a high fever, bright red vaginal bleeding, severe nausea or vomiting, increased amount of pain or inflammation and/or difficulty urinating.