A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a woman’s uterus.
During a hysterectomy, a surgeon removes a woman’s uterus (womb), a pear-shaped organ that’s part of the female reproductive system. The surgeon may also need to remove additional organs and tissues:
- During a supracervical hysterectomy, the surgeon removes only the upper portion of the uterus but leaves the cervix.
- During a total hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus and the cervix.
- During a total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus, the cervix, the fallopian tubes and the ovaries.
- During a radical hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus, the cervix, the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, the upper portion of the vagina, certain lymph nodes and certain surrounding tissues.
There are a number of conditions that can lead to the need for a hysterectomy, including:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Cervical or uterine cancer
- Pelvic pain
- Uterine fibroids (leiomyomas)
- Uterine prolapse
Depending on your condition, you will receive either general or regional anesthesia during surgery. Surgeons can use a number of different approaches to perform a hysterectomy:
- During an open (or traditional) hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the woman’s uterus through a 6- to 12-inch incision in her abdominal wall.
- During a robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy, the surgeon makes three to five small incisions in the woman’s abdomen. He or she then uses robotic arms, a small camera and miniature surgical tools to cut the woman’s uterus into small pieces and remove each piece through those incisions.
- During a vaginal hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the woman’s uterus through her vagina. In some cases, the surgeon will use a laparoscope during this procedure.
What to Expect
As with any surgical procedure, a hysterectomy can present various risks, including:
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clots
- Urinary tract injury
- Bowel blockage
- Poor reaction to anesthesia
Minimally invasive approaches to surgery can reduce the risk of these complications and shorten recovery times. Your physician will provide you with estimates and instructions that are customized to your specific circumstances.
Once you’ve undergone a hysterectomy, you’ll no longer menstruate or be able to get pregnant. And if your ovaries were removed as part of your hysterectomy, you may also experience some of the symptoms commonly associated with menopause, including hot flashes.
Hysterectomies are generally considered to be effective, but the degree of effectiveness can vary depending on the condition being treated, the patient’s overall health and various other factors. The experienced women’s care experts at Tampa General Hospital help ensure the best possible results, regardless of the complexity of the condition.