What is hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman’s uterus. A woman may have a hysterectomy for different reasons, including:
- Uterine fibroids that cause pain, bleeding, or other problems
- Uterine prolapse, which is a sliding of the uterus from its normal position into the vaginal canal
- Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Adenomyosis or a thickening of the uterus
Hysterectomy for non-cancerous reasons is usually considered only after all other treatment approaches have been tried without success.
Types of hysterectomy and surgical techniques:
Depending on the reason for the hysterectomy, a surgeon may choose to remove all or only part of the uterus. Patients and health care providers sometimes use these terms inexactly, so it is important to clarify if the cervix and/or ovaries are removed:
- Supracervial or subtotal hysterectomy: A surgeon removes only the upper part of the uterus, keeping the cervix in place.
- Total hysterectomy: Removes the whole uterus and cervix.
- Radical hysterectomy: a surgeon removes the whole uterus, tissue on the sides of the uterus, the cervix, and the top part of the vagina. Radical hysterectomy is generally only done when cancer is present.
Surgeons use different approaches for hysterectomy, depending on the surgeon’s experience, the reason for the hysterectomy, and a woman’s overall health.
There are several approaches that can be used for a minimally invasive procedures (MIP) hysterectomy: Vaginal hysterectomy, Laparoscopic hysterectomy, Laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy, Robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy.
What is a laparoscopic hysterectomy?
In this type of hysterectomy, a doctor inserts a thin, lighted telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope and other small surgical instruments into the navel and abdomen through 3 to 4 small incisions, each less than a quarter-inch long. The laparoscope acts like a video camera, guiding the surgeon as he or she carefully removes the uterus (womb) through one of the openings.
Risks with laparoscopic hysterectomy
There are some potential risks and complications which are specific to laparoscopic hysterectomy:
- Injury to abdominal wall: bleeding, port site hernia.
- Conversion to open surgery in case of unexpected complications or findings such as malignancy.
- Injury to internal abdominal and pelvic organs: bowels, bladder, ureter, blood vessels. This may occur during the insertion phase of the laparoscope or during surgery.
- There is some concern that bladder or ureteric injury may be more common in laparoscopic compared to abdominal hysterectomy.
Advantages of laparoscopic hysterectomy
For many women facing a hysterectomy, laparoscopic hysterectomy offers a less invasive option than traditional hysterectomy methods, with shorter hospital and recovery times, and less pain and scarring afterwards.
- Pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you
- Know your family health history of breast, ovarian or colon cancer
- Get the HPV vaccine
- Get regular Pap and HPV tests