A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the uterus, or “womb”.
There are several ways this can be performed:
A supracervical hysterectomy removes the uterus but leaves the cervix in place, which some research suggests may reduce the risk of pelvic organ prolapse and preserve sexual function.
This is sometimes referred to as “partial hysterectomy.”
Total or “traditional” hysterectomy removes the uterus and cervix.
A radical hysterectomy may remove all of these organs (the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries), plus the pelvic lymph nodes.
How Are Hysterectomies Performed?
There are three major ways this procedure is performed:
This is also referred to as “open.”
This hysterectomy method requires a 4- to 8-inch incision just above the pubic hair line to remove the uterus and cervix and, in some cases, other organs (tubes and/or ovaries).
The most invasive kind of hysterectomy, this type is performed under general anesthesia, with a typical hospital stay of 3-6 days and up to 6 weeks of recovery time.
This hysterectomy method uses a smaller incision inside the vagina to remove the uterus, cervix and other organs, as determined by your doctor.
This incision is not visible externally. A vaginal hysterectomy usually requires a 1-3 day hospital stay and up to 4 weeks recovery time.
This has become one of the more popular hysterectomy approaches. With this method, a thin, lighted, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope (along with other small surgical instruments) is inserted through 3 to 4 tiny abdominal incisions to detach and remove the uterus.
There are different types of laparoscopic hysterectomy. Based upon your clinical need, your doctor might perform a laparoscopic supra-cervical hysterectomy (LSH) allowing you to keep your cervix, or a total laparoscopic hysterectomy (TLH), which removes the cervix as well.
Unlike more traditional methods, laparoscopic hysterectomy usually requires only one day or less in the hospital and only 7-14 days of recovery time.
Patients also experience less scarring and pain compared to other hysterectomy methods.