Risks and Complications of Hysterectomy Surgery

What You Should Know Before Having a Hysterectomy

Surgeon preparing surgical instrument
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A hysterectomy is one of the safest surgeries in America, and is also one of the most common surgeries performed today.  While this procedure is considered very safe, it is still important to know the common complications and risks associated with this type of surgery.

Why the Surgery Is Low Risk

The low level of risk associated with hysterectomies is present, in part, because the surgeons who perform them do so on a regular basis, which helps improve outcomes for their patients.

Also, many hysterectomy patients are otherwise healthy, which helps to limit complications during and after the procedure.

How Low is the Risk Really?

According to recent studies, less than 10% of hysterectomy patients experience a major or minor complication. The risks are slightly higher with the open abdominal approach than with the vaginal and laparoscopic abdominal procedures, but this is because the open approach is used for patients with the most challenging cases. Overall, however, the chances of serious complications are low.

Risks of Hysterectomy

In addition to the general risks of surgery and the risks associated with anesthesia, a hysterectomy surgery presents some unique risks. These risks include:

  • Moderate or light bleeding after hysterectomy surgery that continues through the recovery period
  • Bleeding during surgery that makes a transfusion necessary
  • Injury to adjacent organs and tissues, such as the bladder or intestines
  • Need to change from vaginal incision to abdominal incision during surgery
  • Hematoma (collection of blood) at the surgical site
  • Difficulty urinating after surgery
  • Dehiscence
  • Damage to the ureter (the tube that brings urine from the kidney to the bladder)

Expected Issues After Hysterectomy

The following are not risks of surgery, as they are expected outcomes with this procedure.

These are normal outcomes after a hysterectomy.

Sterility: After surgery, you will no longer be able to give birth.

Menopause: If the hysterectomy includes an oophorectomy, or surgery to remove the ovaries, menopause will begin after surgery if it had not started prior to the procedure.

For More Information: Hysterectomy: Before, During and After


Hysterectomy. New York State Department of Health. February 14th, 2009. http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/consumer/women/hyster.htm#physic

Hysterectomy. Seton Family of Hospitals. Accessed February 14th, 2009. http://www.seton.net/health_a_to_z/health_library/illnesses_and_conditions/hysterectomy#risks_of_hysterectomy

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