A hysterectomy, which is the second most common female surgery, is the surgical removal of the uterus and may involve removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
The three types of hysterectomies are complete, partial and radical. A complete, or total, hysterectomy involves removing the uterus and cervix, while a partial, or subtotal, hysterectomy involves removing the uterus, but not the cervix. During a radical hysterectomy the uterus, cervix, upper part of the vagina and supporting tissues are removed.
Hysterectomies are performed to treat uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, persistent vaginal bleeding, chronic pelvic pain and cancer of the uteris, cervix or ovaries.
A hysterectomy can be performed by an abdominal incision, vaginal incision or by laparoscopy. Hysterectomies performed by laparoscope or vaginal incision usually involve less recovery time. During a laparoscopic hysterectomy, a thin tube with a camera attached is inserted in a small incision to allow the surgeon to visualize the uterus during removal by laparoscopic tools.
Recovery time depends on the hysterectomy method. Recovery from a hysterectomy performed by an abdominal incision is about four to eight weeks. Recovery from a hysterectomy performed by a vaginal incision or laparoscopy takes about one to two weeks. You may have to stay in the hospital up to four days after the hysterectomy.
Risks associated with a hysterectomy include blood loss requiring a transfusion, bowel injury, bladder injury, complications with anesthesia, wound pulling open and the need to change to an abdominal incision during surgery. If one or both ovaries are removed during your procedure, a lowered sexual desire may occur as a side effect.