A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. It one of the most common gynaecological procedures, particularly in women who are approaching menopause. Removing the womb is irreversible and medical specialists need to consider all possible alternatives before conducting a hysterectomy. Reasons that may contribute to a decision to conduct a hysterectomy include the presence of cancer in the womb, ovaries or cervix, large uterine fibroids and endometriosis. The procedure is becoming less common as a result of new treatment that can combat issues that previously required a hysterectomy to treat. In some cases however, a hysterectomy is still recommended to manage severe conditions. The patient’s personal medical history and their plans for the future are essential factors during the decision-making process.
Types of Hysterectomy Procedure
Every hysterectomy procedure results in a degree of uterine removal but the level of this removal is dependent on the type of hysterectomy performed. Partial, radial and complete hysterectomies are performed based on the need of the patient. The three types are discussed briefly below.
Many people are unaware that the cervix is considered a part of the uterus. It is essentially the neck of the uterus. When a partial hysterectomy is conducted, the cervix is retained.
A total or complete hysterectomy includes removal of the cervix.
This hysterectomy type is the most extensive procedure and results in the removal of more tissue than the complete or partial procedures. During a radial hysterectomy procedure, part of the vagina that is closest to the cervix will be removed. Radial hysterectomies are usually are usually conducted in the case of cervical or vaginal cancer. Sometimes it may be necessary to remove supporting tissues or lymph nodes in and around the uterus.
What Happens to the Rest of the Reproductive Organs?
The ovaries are the organs that produce the ovum or eggs which are integral to the reproductive process. The Fallopian tubes are another key organ as they carry the eggs to the uterus for implantation. If necessary, the ovaries and fallopian tubes may be removed during a hysterectomy. The absence of ovaries may require hormone replacement therapy as the body will be unable to produce hormones on its own any longer.
Method of Surgery
Regardless of which hysterectomy is performed, the procedure can be done either through the abdomen or laparoscopically. The decision to perform it one way over another will depend on the patient’s medical history and current diagnosis as well as the surgeon’s expertise. In terms of risks, hysterectomies have risks that are typical of any surgical procedure though the more radical the surgery, the more risky it will be. It is always a good idea to seek a second opinion before deciding to undergo a surgery as intensive as a hysterectomy.