Hysterectomy – Surgical
Why are hysterectomies performed?
Fibroids are the most common cause for hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus. They are associated with as many as half of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed in the US annually. Depending on their location, fibroids can cause either heavy bleeding, pelvic and back pain, or pressure on bowel and bladder. Most hysterectomies performed for fibroids [the medical term is myoma] are performed by the abdominal route since the fibroids may grow to be quite large. Fibroids are almost never cancerous.
Although not as common as fibroids, cancer may affect either the lining of the uterine cavity [endometrial cancer], cancer of the cervix, or sarcoma, a rare cancer in the uterine muscle. These cancers are treated with hysterectomy. Often the ovaries will be removed at the same surgery to prevent spread.
Endometriosis is another common cause for hysterectomy. In this disease, the lining of the uterus [the endometrium] spreads to other parts of the pelvic cavity such as the ovaries. It is stimulated each month as if it were inside the uterus. Women often complain of intense crampy pain with exercise, intercourse or menstruation when they suffer from endometriosis. Medical therapy may slow the spread of this disease. Laparoscopy may allow a physician to remove some of the disease. In spite of the best efforts, many women require hysterectomy to cure their chronic pain.
Other conditions which may require a hysterectomy include a drop of the pelvic cavity organs.
“The fibroid was really impacting my life. I tried this alternative to hysterectomy (fibroid embolization) and I got better…””
Do You Really Need a Hysterectomy?
If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids and your doctor has recommended a hysterectomy without discussing less invasive therapies, you owe yourself a second opinion. A hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus) is a major operation. In addition to a lengthy hospital stay and recovery period at home, there’s a 30% complication rate and obvious issues regarding a woman’s sexuality, fertility and quality of life once the uterus is removed.
Half of All Hysterectomies Are Due to Fibroids.
Most could be avoided. While a hysterectomy will certainly cure a fibroid problem, many women don’t want to lose their uterus. Remember, fibroids are usually not cancerous. You don’t have to rush into anything. Research your options.
Types of Hysterectomy.
Removal of the entire uterus is a total hysterectomy. Leaving the cervix but removing the rest of the uterus, is called a sub-total hysterectomy. Removing ovaries ( bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy), is a separate decision which a patient and her doctor make before surgery. Hysterectomies are performed in one of two ways; either through an incision in the stomach (Abdominal Hysterectomy) or through the vagina (Vaginal Hysterectomy). Abdominal hysterectomies are the most common form and typically require the longest recovery time. Some hysterectomies can be done using an instrument called the laparoscope.