A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus and can sometimes include the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This is a common procedure for women in the United States and is performed over 600,000 times each year. A hysterectomy stops the menstrual cycle and prevents pregnancy. It is a permanent procedure that cannot be reversed.
Although a hysterectomy is often considered a last line of defense, it can often be effective in treating reproductive conditions. Some of the reasons for a hysterectomy include:
- Uterine fibroids
- Uterine prolapse
- Pelvic adhesions
- Persistent pain or bleeding
A hysterectomy can be performed through different methods, depending on the initial reason and the personal health and preferences of the patient. Many hysterectomies can be performed laparoscopically, which requires small incisions. Laparoscopy can often be used for a vaginal hysterectomy, which generally has fewer complications and smaller scars. An open abdominal hysterectomy uses larger incisions.
A total hysterectomy removes the uterus and cervix. It may also remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes. A subtotal hysterectomy removes the uterus but leaves the cervix. A radical hysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix, tubes, ovaries and the pelvic lymph nodes. This is usually done for patients with cancer or other serious diseases.
While a hysterectomy is generally considered safe, there are certain risks involved. Some risks of a hysterectomy include blood loss, bowel or bladder injuries, or problems with anesthesia.