The dream of having natural children is one for many women. Unfortunately, not all can have them, or are prevented from having additional kids because they undergo an operation to have their uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, or their cervix, removed. This process is called a hysterectomy. There are a number of types of hysterectomies, including laparoscopic hysterectomy, abdominal hysterectomy, and a full hysterectomy.
Roughly 600,000 women in the United States undergo hysterectomy surgery annually. Once women reach the age of 60, at least 1 out of 3 women will undergo this operation. As well, it is the 2nd most common surgery for women, falling behind only cesarean sections.
In the past, a number of incisions were necessary for this surgical process to be performed. Recently, advances in technology have made the job easier for the hysterectomy surgeon and their patient to be able to make the operation safe, quicker, less painful, and have faster recovery times. We will look at some of the new technologies and how they benefit the woman undergoing the surgery. But first, let us take a look at what a hysterectomy is, what are the causes, and how they are performed.
What is a Hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy comes from the Greek hystera, meaning, “womb”, and ektomia, meaning “the cutting of.” Usually performed by a gynecologist, hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus, or part of it. During the procedure the doctor may also remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries, all located in the woman’s lower abdomen. The ovaries produce eggs and hormones, while the fallopian tubes carry the eggs from the ovaries to the womb. Once the operation is performed the patient will not be able to get pregnant.
If the patient has not yet reached menopause naturally, they may enter into what is called “surgical menopause” at an early age even if the ovaries were not removed. If the ovaries are removed as a part of the hysterectomy surgery, the woman will definitely enter into premature menopause.
Reasons Why Women Need a Hysterectomy
Women must have hysterectomy surgery performed on them for a variety of reasons. They include:
- Hyperplasia – When a woman’s uterus becomes to thick and bleeding occurs, usually because of a high concentration of estrogen, this procedure will most likely be necessary.
- Cancer – 10% of all hysterectomies are due to cancer. There are a number of types of cancers that may call for this type of procedure, and they are endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, cancer of the ovaries or fallopian tubes, and uterine sarcoma. Radiation and hormonal treatment may be required in addition to the hysterectomy.
- Uterine Fibroids – This is the leading reason why women need a hysterectomy. Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in muscle of the uterus and must be removed. These fibroids cause pain and bleeding.
- Uterine Prolapse – When a woman has weak and stretched pelvic tissues and ligaments, the uterus may drop into the vagina, which can lead to troublesome bowel movements and urinary problems. Factors causing this may include obesity, childbirth, and loss of estrogen once a woman has gone through menopause.
- Endometriosis – This is a benign condition that causes distress on the uterus. When the interior lining of the uterus begins growing on the outside of the womb, and, possibly organs that are close by, leading to loss of fertility, greater than usual pain during menstrual periods, and anomalous vaginal bleeding, a hysterectomy will be required.
- Additional Causes – Heavy bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, and chronic pelvic inflammatory disease may lead to the need for a hysterectomy.
How Hysterectomy’s Are Performed
The type of hysterectomy surgery depends on the health of the woman, her age, the diagnosed problem, and the experience of the surgeon.
MIP stands for “minimally invasive procedure,” the most common being vaginal hysterectomy. A vaginal hysterectomy is a simple procedure whereby the hysterectomy surgeon makes an incision in the vagina and removes the uterus, leaving no outward scar.
Open Surgery Hysterectomy
65% of all hysterectomy procedures are open surgery hysterectomy’s originating in the abdomen where a 5-7” incision is made. The gynecologist removes the uterus through this opening. A scar will form as it heals, and it typically requires a stay of three days in the hospital for the patient to recover.
Recent Advances in Hysterectomy Surgery
- SILS – SILS stands for “single incision laparoscopic surgery,” and is revolutionizing the hysterectomy procedure because the operation requires only one incision. One question most women ask during pre-surgery consultation is if a scar will result. SILS necessitates only one incision in the belly. Pain is minimized as is recovery time, and it leaves behind no visible scar.
- Advanced Laproscopic Surgery – A few cuts are made in the patient’s belly and a small lighted tube, a laparoscope, is inserted to guide the surgeon as he or she removes the uterus while viewing the procedure on a monitor. This is also a minimally invasive surgery.
- Laparoscopic –assisted Vaginal Surgery – The uterus is removed through the vagina using laparoscopic instruments. This is also a minimally invasive surgery.
- Robotic Hysterectomy – New technology allows the surgeon to sit at a console before a monitor and perform hysterectomy surgery with total precision using mechanical arms. The surgical area is magnified and the instruments are able to be manipulated with greater dexterity than natural hands are able to move. It does require more than one incision, though, but depending on what type of surgery it is will determine if a scar is involved.
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