Women's Cancers

Types of Hysterectomies

Eileen Bailey Jul 8th, 2014 (updated Jun 11th, 2015)
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What is a hysterectomy?
What is a hysterectomy?

Hysterectomies are one of the most common surgeries for women. A radical hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus, cervix and ovaries, while a total hysterectomy refers to the removal of the uterus and cervix. This type of surgery is most often performed because of painful fibroids, but other reasons include abnormal bleeding, endometriosis, pre-cancerous conditions on the ovary or cancer. 

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Abdominal hysterectomy
Abdominal hysterectomy

A 4 to 8 inch incision is made across your abdomen, usually below your belly button, along the bikini line but can also be vertical, from the pubic bone up to the belly button. This type of surgery is often used when the uterus is enlarged, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also being removed or, in the cases of cancer, when the disease has spread within the pelvic cavity.

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Vaginal hysterectomy
Vaginal hysterectomy

With a vaginal hysterectomy, a small incision is made at the top of your vagina and the uterus is removed through this incision. This is often done if you have experienced a uterine prolapse, which is when the pelvic cavity cannot support the uterus. The recovery time (usually 3 to 4 weeks) is much shorter than with abdominal hysterectomy and there are no external scars after the surgery. 

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Laparoscopic hysterectomy
Laparoscopic hysterectomy

A small incision is made in your abdomen and surgical tools are inserted through the incision to detach and remove the uterus. The surgeon can use a laparoscope to view the uterus and the surrounding organs. Sometimes surgeons will combine the laparoscopic and vaginal procedures, using the incision in the vagina to remove organs and the incision in the abdomen to insert a laparoscope and view the pelvic cavity. 

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Risks
Risks

All surgeries carry certain risks. No matter which type of hysterectomy you and your doctor determine is best, you should be aware of the risks. Some risks include infection, hemorrhage, and Injury to other organs within the pelvic cavity. If you have not yet reached menopause, you might experience menopausal symptoms after your surgery.