There are several non-cancerous gynecologic conditions that can lead your health care provider to recommend a hysterectomy, which is the surgical removal of the uterus.
Some of these problems can cause pain, heavy bleeding, and other disabling conditions. There are often many options for treating these problems, but sometimes a hysterectomy is recommended. Hysterectomy is the second most common surgical procedure performed on women in the United States.
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There are several different ways to perform a hysterectomy. Here are the most common:
This is the traditional type of surgery. For some patients, this is the only option. A cut measuring four to 16 inches is made on your abdomen to access the female organs. Your hospital stay is usually three to five nights. You need to take six to eight weeks off from work to recover.
This avoids the discomfort of an abdominal cut, but is not available to all women, especially those with small, narrow vaginas. The hospital stay is usually one or two nights.
With this approach, several small cuts, each measuring less than ½ inch are made on the stomach. A tiny camera is put through one cut so the surgeon can see the internal organs on a video screen. The surgeon puts surgical instruments through the other cuts to operate. Laparoscopy gives the surgeon a view that is similar to an open stomach cut but avoids the pain. The hospital stay is usually one or two nights. You need to take about four weeks off from work to recover.
This approach is similar to standard laparoscopy with small cuts made on the stomach to insert a camera and instruments. There are distinct differences, however. First, the surgical instruments are connected to a robot the surgeon moves using controls at a console nearby. The instruments are more flexible than those used for traditional laparoscopy, and allow the surgeon to move the tools more freely and precisely. In addition, the robotic camera provides three-dimensional view of the surgical field versus the two-dimensional view given by the laparoscopic camera.
The hospital stay for robotic surgery is usually one or two nights. You need to take about four weeks off from work to recover.
Cancer can affect various parts of a woman’s reproductive system, including the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Physicians will often recommend a hysterectomy, which is the surgical removal of the uterus.
Hysterectomy performed for cancer may be described as a simple hysterectomy, meaning that only the uterus (including the cervix) is removed. A radical hysterectomy is performed when it is necessary to remove the parametrial tissue surrounding the lower portion of the uterus and cervix and possibly the upper vagina.
In both a simple or radical hysterectomy, the surgeon may also recommend removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and/or lymph nodes during the procedure.