Surgical Removal of the Uterus, or Womb
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, or womb. This article will explain:
- Why you may need to have a hysterectomy
- How hysterectomy is performed
- What to expect before and after the operation
Remember, no two women undergoing a hysterectomy are alike. The reasons for and the outcome of any surgical procedure depend on your age, the severity of your problem, and your general health. This article is not intended to take the place of your surgeon’s professional opinion. Rather, it is intended to help you understand the basic elements of this surgical procedure. Read this information carefully. If you have questions after reading this material, discuss them openly and honestly with your surgeon.
The vaginal approach to hysterectomy is ideal when the uterus is not enlarged or when the uterus has dropped as a result of the weakening of surrounding muscles. This approach is technically more difficult than the abdominal procedure because it offers the surgeon less operating space and less opportunity to view the pelvic organs. However, it may be preferred if a patient has a prolapsed uterus, if the patient is obese, or in some cases has early cervical or uterine cancer. A vaginal hysterectomy leaves no external scar.
A variation on vaginal hysterectomy is LAVH (laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy). A laparoscope is a device the surgeon can use to examine the inside of the pelvis. LAVH is an alternative for women who have ovarian disease but previously had only one choice: an abdominal hysterectomy that leaves a long incision. With LAVH, much of the procedure is done through tiny incisions using a laparoscope. The rest of the procedure then can be finished vaginally.