Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. It is done to treat certain gynecological conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroids, cancer, uterine bleeding that hasn't responded to other treatments, and childbirth complications. It can also be done as part of gender-affirming surgery.
A total (complete) hysterectomy is removal of the uterus and cervix. A subtotal (also called partial or supracervical) hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. In this case, the cervix is left in place.
A radical hysterectomy is done for some cancers. It removes the uterus, the cervix, part of the vagina, and some tissues around these organs. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, and nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.
Why is a hysterectomy done?
Most often, a hysterectomy is done to treat problems with the uterus. These problems include pain and heavy bleeding caused by endometriosis or uterine fibroids. The surgery may also be needed if there is cancer in the uterus, cervix, or ovaries. And it may be done as life-saving surgery if there is heavy bleeding during childbirth that can't be stopped.
In most cases, hysterectomy is an elective surgery. You can choose to have it to treat noncancerous female reproductive system conditions that haven't improved with medical treatment. If you don't plan to get pregnant and have tried other treatment options without success, it may be a reasonable treatment choice.
Other reasons for hysterectomy include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Chronic pelvic pain (surgery is done only when the pain is caused by a diagnosed condition that can be corrected with a hysterectomy)
- A severe infection of the uterus
How is a hysterectomy done?
There are many ways to do the surgery. The type you have may depend on your medical condition and the size and position of your uterus. It also depends on your overall health. Talk with your physician about which type is right for you.
This is done through a cut that the doctor makes in the lower belly. The cut is called an incision. The physician takes out the uterus through this cut in the belly.
This is done through the vagina. The physician makes a small cut in the vagina instead of the belly. The uterus is removed through this cut in the vagina.
The physician puts a lighted tube (laparoscope) through small cuts in the belly. The physician can see your organs with the scope. The physician can insert surgical tools to cut the tissue that holds your uterus in place. Then the uterus is removed. It may be removed through small cuts in the belly. (This is called laparoscopic abdominal hysterectomy.) Or it may be removed through the vagina. (This is called laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy.)
What can you expect as you recover from a hysterectomy?
You might go home the day of your hysterectomy or stay in the hospital for several days. Recovery can take 4 to 6 weeks. It depends on which type of surgery you have and your overall health. You will have to take it easy for a few weeks and avoid heavy lifting.
Minimally invasive hysterectomy
At Parkview, we have expert surgeons trained in robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery to perform hysterectomies.