What is a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a procedure to remove the uterus. During a hysterectomy, your surgeon may also remove your ovaries, fallopian tubes and/or other reproductive organs. After having a hysterectomy, you will no longer have a menstrual period or be able to get pregnant.

There are several types of hysterectomies, including:

  • Total hysterectomy: This is the most common form of hysterectomy. The uterus and cervix are removed, while the ovaries and fallopian tubes are left intact.
  • Hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy: In addition to removing the uterus, your surgeon will remove your fallopian tubes and one or both ovaries.
  • Radical hysterectomy: This hysterectomy is used to treat certain types of cancer. The uterus, cervix and upper part of the vagina are removed, as well as pelvic lymph nodes in some cases.
  • Supracervical hysterectomy (partial or subtotal hysterectomy): Your uterus is removed, but your cervix remains intact.

Surgical techniques for hysterectomy

  • Abdominal hysterectomy: Your surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen, usually from your navel to pubic bone or along the pubic hairline. This surgery is often used to treat cancer or endometriosis that has spread throughout the pelvic area, if your uterus is enlarged or if your fallopian tubes need to be removed.
  • Vaginal hysterectomy: The uterus is removed through the vagina. This procedure is more common when treating uterine prolapse or when making vaginal repairs. Because there is no incision, there is no visible scar.
  • Laparoscope-assisted vaginal hysterectomy: Using a laparoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end, your surgeon will insert thin tubes through small incisions near your navel. The uterus is then removed through the vagina or laparoscope tube.

Why would I need a hysterectomy?

There are several reasons your physician may recommend a hysterectomy, including:

  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroid tumors
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Cancer
  • Uterine prolapse
  • Chronic pelvic conditions
  • When the uterus blocks the bladder or intestines
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