There are times when a doctor such as Dr. Gandhi of Partners in Pelvic Health North Shore Urogynecology may suggest that patients undergo a hysterectomy. This is a very big decision that should not be taken lightly. Many patients who face a hysterectomy will attempt all non-surgical avenues in treating or controlling their condition before undergoing this procedure.
Patients who may be candidates for a hysterectomy include those with:
- Uterine or cervical cancer
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Adenomyosis (thickened uterus)
- Uterine prolapse
- Pain and discomfort from uterine fibers
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
A hysterectomy is a procedure that typically removes some part of the uterus or the entire uterus. There are various types of hysterectomies, including a subtotal hysterectomy, total hysterectomy, and a radical hysterectomy. In a subtotal hysterectomy, only the upper portion of the uterus is removed. This keeps the cervix in place. During a total hysterectomy, both the uterus and cervix are removed. Radical hysterectomies are typically only done when there is cancer, and include the removal of the uterus, cervix, and upper part of the vagina. It may or may not include the removal of the ovaries (called an oophorectomy).
In a traditional hysterectomy, an incision is made on the lower abdomen in which the uterus is removed, while other methods are also available as a less invasive treatment. This may include a laparoscopic hysterectomy or a vaginal hysterectomy that does not leave a large scar in the same way a conventional open surgery will.
Hysterectomy is a low-risk procedure. It is common and requires approximately three days of recovery at the hospital. However, it is a surgical procedure, which always carries some risks. Complications that may occur from a hysterectomy include:
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal prolapse
- The formation of fistulas
- Chronic pain
- Blood clots
Dr. Gandhi discusses the possible risks and complications that can occur after treatment before a patient agrees to have the surgical procedure completed. Patients are no longer able to have children after a hysterectomy, so this is only done if necessary or if all other options have been considered and attempted.