Overview of Hysterectomy

The Surgical Removal of The Uterus

Patient lying on hospital bed with monitor on finger
Phil Fisk/Cultura/Getty Images

A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. It can sometimes include the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. A hysterectomy ends the menstrual cycle and the ability to become pregnant.

A hysterectomy can be performed laparoscopically with small incisions or as an abdominal hysterectomy with larger incisions. Laparoscopy can also be used for a vaginal hysterectomy, with fewer complications and smaller scars.

Types of Hysterectomy

There are different types of hysterectomy. They are:

  • Total hysterectomy – the entire uterus, including the cervix, is removed.
  • Supracervical hysterectomy – the uterus is removed but the cervix is left in place.
  • Radical hysterectomy – the removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries and pelvic lymph nodes.

Other organs besides the uterus and cervix may be removed if they appear abnormal. Women at risk of ovarian cancer or breast cancer may choose to have their ovaries removed during the procedure to reduce their risk of developing cancer.

Reasons for a Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is performed to treat health conditions. Some of the reasons for a hysterectomy include:

Many hysterectomies can be performed laparoscopically, which requires small incisions. Laparoscopy can often be used for a vaginal hysterectomy, which generally has fewer complications and smaller scars.

An open abdominal hysterectomy uses larger incisions.

While a hysterectomy is generally considered safe, certain risks involved. Some include fever and infection, blood loss, injuries to the bowel or urinary tract, blood clots in the leg, or problems with anesthesia.

The Hysterectomy Procedure

Prior to the procedure you will need to have pre-surgical tests that include blood and urine tests.

You may be given an enema or bowel preparation and your pelvic and abdominal areas may be shaved. In intravenous (IV) will be placed into a vein in your arm for medication and fluid delivery.

Once you are prepared, and depending on your overall health, your anesthesiologist will either administer a general anesthesia or regional anesthesia. Depending on the method used for surgery, your surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen or vagina. The surgical procedure can last one to three hours. Your recovery period in the hospital will depend on the type of surgery performed.

Recovery After a Hysterectomy Procedure

After being driven home by a responsible adult, you will be able to resume your normal diet. You can shower, washing your incision area with soap and water. You can increase your daily activities as long as you are not in pain. Avoid lifting heavy objects for at least a month after your procedure. You can drive when you are not on medication. Sexual intercourse is allowed six weeks after surgery, or as directed by your surgeon.

In four to six weeks you can resume your exercise routine as long as you feel comfortable. Depending on the type of hysterectomy you had, you can return to work in three to six weeks.

Continue Reading