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Hysterectomy: Advantages and Risks 
 
by Valencia P. Higuera July 22, 2005

Surgery

Women who have a hysterectomy can anticipate remaining in the hospital a few days after surgery. In addition, time off from employment is necessary for several weeks. On average, women can return to normal daily activities within six weeks; however more time should be taken if necessary. During a hysterectomy, the surgeon will remove the uterine, which involves detaching it from the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vagina. If cancer is present, additional organs and tissues may also be removed. Hysterectomy consists of:

  • Partial hysterectomy- Uterus is removed, but cervix remains
  • Complete hysterectomy – Uterus and cervix are removed
  • Hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – Removal of uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries

Surgeons may perform a hysterectomy one of two ways:

  • Abdominal hysterectomy
  • Vaginal hysterectomy

Abdominal Hysterectomy

Abdominal hysterectomy involves performing the surgery through an incision in the lower abdomen. The incision made is either vertical or horizontal, and provides a visual of the uterus and organs. Surgeons are more inclined to perform an abdominal hysterectomy when a gynecological cancer is the reason for the hysterectomy, or when large tumors are present. The disadvantage of this procedure is that women are subjected to a longer hospital stay; they may experience more pain or discomfort, and will have a permanent scar.

Vaginal Hysterectomy

Vaginal hysterectomies involve making a small incision around the cervix. The recovery time for a vaginal hysterectomy is shorter. Unlike abdominal hysterectomies, vaginal procedures do not afford surgeons a lot of working room. Therefore, surgeons must be skilled to avoid accidentally damaging pelvic organs. This procedure is better suited for treating non-cancerous conditions such as fibroids. Women who require a large abdominal incision procedure may be able to have a vaginal incision with the assistance of a laparoscope. This surgery involves making a small incision in the abdomen, and using a laparoscope and surgical instruments to detach the uterus. After the uterus is detached, it may be removed through the vagina.

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