What is a hysterectomy?

A total hysterectomy is a surgery that removes the uterus, cervix and surrounding tissues. Approximately 10 percent of the hysterectomies performed in the United States are to treat ovarian and other gynecological cancers. A hysterectomy can also be performed to treat endometriosis, fibroid tumors, prolapse of the uterus, abnormal vaginal bleeding and chronic pelvic pain. 

In many cases, your doctor will develop a treatment plan that includes other cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy, in conjunction with a total hysterectomy. Depending on your case, you may have any of these treatments before or after your hysterectomy to prevent the cancer from spreading. 

Your doctor may also perform a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy to remove your ovaries and fallopian tubes in the same surgery as the hysterectomy.

Who is a candidate for a hysterectomy?

Your Mercy Health gynecological surgeon will determine if you are a candidate for a total hysterectomy. The surgeon will evaluate your case based on the type of cancer, size of the tumor, location of the tumor, grade and stage of the tumor as well as look at your overall health. 

What are the risks of a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a major surgery. Complications associated with a hysterectomy include:

  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Severe bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Damage to pelvic areas including urinary tract, bladder or rectum
  • Can initiate early onset of menopause
Patients who have a hysterectomy before the age of 35 run the risk of long-term cardiovascular disease and other metabolic conditions.

What to expect during a hysterectomy?

What to expect during a hysterectomy will depend on what type of hysterectomy you will be having. The main types of hysterectomy surgery include:
  • Total abdominal hysterectomy - your doctor will make a large incision in the abdomen and remove your uterus.
  • Vaginal hysterectomy - your uterus will be removed through an incision in your vagina.
  • Robotic laparoscopic abdominal hysterectomy or laparoscopic vaginal hysterectomy - a robotic laparoscopic hysterectomy can be performed with a robot through smaller incisions in the abdomen. A laparoscopic robotic hysterectomy eliminates the need for a large incision and can reduce your recovery time.

Recovery from a hysterectomy

The recovery period for a hysterectomy depends upon which type of hysterectomy your surgeon performed.   
  • Recovery from a traditional abdominal hysterectomy is approximately six weeks
  • Recovery from a vaginal hysterectomy takes about two weeks
  • Recovery from a total laparoscopic hysterectomy takes about two weeks

At discharge, your doctor will provide a detailed list of instructions including:

  • Follow-up appointment schedule
  • Additional treatments necessary and treatment schedule
  • Avoid strenuous activity until your doctor clears you to resume your daily routine
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Abstain from sexual intercourse for at least six weeks
  • Pain management options 

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