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Hysterectomy FAQs

Following are the common questions about Hysterectomy:

  1. What is a hysterectomy?
  2. Who performs a hysterectomy?
  3. Who needs a hysterectomy?
  4. What are the different types of hysterectomy?
  5. What are the different methods of hysterectomy?
  6. What are the different approaches for performing a hysterectomy?
  7. What diagnostic tests are done before a hysterectomy?
  8. Why are diagnostic tests done before a hysterectomy?
  9. Which type of anesthesia is used for a hysterectomy?
  10. What should I look for before choosing a hospital for a hysterectomy?
  11. What happens during a hysterectomy?
  12. How long does a vaginal hysterectomy take?
  13. What happens during a vaginal hysterectomy?
  14. How much time does an abdominal hysterectomy take to complete?
  15. What happens during an abdominal hysterectomy?
  16. Is hospitalization needed after undergoing a hysterectomy?
  17. Do I need follow-up visits with the doctor after a hysterectomy?
  18. How much time does it take to recover after a hysterectomy?
  19. What are the benefits of minimally invasive hysterectomy?
  20. How to prepare for a hysterectomy or things to do before hysterectomy?
  21. What to drink before a hysterectomy?
  22. What are the possible complications of a hysterectomy?

Q. What is a hysterectomy?

A. A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove the uterus (womb). A womb is where a baby develops when a woman gets pregnant. Most hysterectomies are not emergencies. After undergoing a hysterectomy, a woman no longer gets menstruation and can’t get pregnant. Sometimes, the surgery also removes the ovaries and the fallopian tubes.

Q. Who performs a hysterectomy?

A. An obstetrician-gynecologist is a medical professional who performs a hysterectomy. However, gynecologic surgeons and gynecologic oncologists may also perform a hysterectomy.

Q. Who needs a hysterectomy?

A. A woman with the following symptoms may need to undergo a hysterectomy:-

  • symptomatic uterine fibroids
  • uterus prolapse
  • endometriosis
  • irregular, excessive, or painful menstrual bleeding
  • cancer of the uterus or ovaries

A hysterectomy is a major surgical procedure. Therefore, you should think about all the pros and cons of the process, talk to your partner, family, and friends. You should even discuss the same with your doctor to make a well-educated decision.

Q. What are the different types of hysterectomy?

A. There are four types of hysterectomy:-

  • Partial hysterectomy
  • Total hysterectomy
  • Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
  • Radical hysterectomy

Which type of hysterectomy is best for you depends on several factors such as the need for the hysterectomy, your age, and general health, etc.

Q. What are the different methods of hysterectomy?

A. There are mainly two different methods of hysterectomy that include the following:-

  • Open Surgery
  • Laparoscopic Surgery

Q. What are the different approaches for performing a hysterectomy?

A. Two approaches are used to perform a hysterectomy include:-

  • Vaginal Hysterectomy
  • Abdominal Hysterectomy

Q. What diagnostic tests are done before a hysterectomy?

A. The obstetrician-gynecologist recommends a few tests to decide if hysterectomy is needed or medications, hormonal therapy, or other non-surgical treatment can be used to treat the condition.

  • Cervical cytology
  • X-ray
  • Pelvic Ultrasound
  • CT Scan
  • MRI Scan
  • Blood and Urine tests
  • Dilation and Curettage
  • Endometrial Biopsy

Based on the findings of the tests, the doctor decides whether medications, other non-surgical procedures, or hysterectomy is a last resort.

Q. Why are diagnostic tests done before a hysterectomy?

A. Based on the symptoms of the patient, the doctor recommends specific diagnostic tests to determine the following:-

  • Type of the condition
  • The root cause of the condition
  • Risk factors and severity of the condition
  • Risk of developing cancer in the future
  • Cyst or fibroids in the uterus
  • Check the difference in the shape of the uterus
  • Detect any abnormal growth in the uterus
  • To detect cancerous tissue

Q. Which type of anesthesia is used for a hysterectomy?

A. A hysterectomy is usually performed under the influence of general anesthesia. This numbs the woman’s body and makes the procedure painless.

Q. What should I look for before choosing a hospital for a hysterectomy?

A. Before choosing a hospital for undergoing a hysterectomy, you should check for the following points:-

  • Location of the hospital
  • Track record of the hospital in hysterectomy
  • Expertise, qualification, and experience of the OB-GYN who performs hysterectomy
  • Type of methods and approach used for hysterectomy
  • The overall expected cost of a hysterectomy

Q. What happens during a hysterectomy?

A. A hysterectomy usually takes around 1-2 hours, depending on the case’s complexity. In the beginning, the surgeon injects general anesthesia, so you sleep during the entire procedure.

The surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen or inside the vagina, removes the uterus, and closes the incision with staples or stitches.

Q. How long does a vaginal hysterectomy take?

A. A vaginal hysterectomy usually takes around 2 hours to complete. It’s a daycare procedure, so the patient doesn’t need a hospital stay. The patient is discharged within a few hours of the operation.

Q. What happens during a vaginal hysterectomy?

A. A vaginal hysterectomy is a surgical procedure when the surgeon removes the uterus through the vagina. During the process, the doctor detaches the uterus from the ovaries, fallopian tubes, upper vagina, and the blood vessels and connective tissue that support it before removing it.

A vaginal hysterectomy is a short and precise procedure. It involves a shorter time in the hospital and faster recovery than an abdominal hysterectomy that consists of an incision in the lower abdomen.

However, depending on the size of the uterus and reasons for the surgery, a vaginal hysterectomy may not be possible. In this case, your doctor will recommend you other surgical options to remove the uterus, such as an abdominal hysterectomy.

Q. How much time does an abdominal hysterectomy take to complete?

A. The abdominal hysterectomy procedure lasts for around 1-2 hours. Usually, a hysterectomy is performed on an outpatient basis. So the patient doesn’t need to stay at the hospital. The surgeon discharges the patient just after a few hours of the surgery.

Q. What happens during an abdominal hysterectomy?

A. An abdominal hysterectomy is a surgical procedure during which the surgeon removes the uterus through an incision in the lower abdomen. Uterus, also called the womb, is the body part where a baby grows when a woman gets pregnant.

An abdominal hysterectomy may also be recommended over other types of hysterectomy in several cases such as:-

  • If you have a large uterus
  • If your doctor wants to check for signs of disease.
  • If your surgeon feels it's in your best interest to undergo an abdominal hysterectomy.

Q. Is hospitalization needed after undergoing a hysterectomy?

A. Usually, vaginal, laparoscopic-assisted, or robotic-assisted procedures are done on an outpatient basis. So the patient doesn't need to stay at the hospital. Instead, the patient can go home the same day, just after a few hours of the procedure. However, in the case of an abdominal hysterectomy, the patient needs hospitalization for at least 1-2 days.

Q. Do I need follow-up visits with the doctor after a hysterectomy?

A. Yes, you will need to do the follow-up visits with the doctor 6-8 weeks after your treatment has finished, every 3-6 months for the first two years, and every 6-12 months for the next three years in some cases.

Q. How much time does it take to recover after a hysterectomy?

A. After one week of hysterectomy, you can resume your daily routine. However, it may take around -8 weeks to recover completely.

Recovery time is often shorter in case of a vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomy. Usually, the doctor suggests avoiding heavy physical activities and lifting heavy weights for the first one week of your surgery.

If you have undergone a hysterectomy to treat cancer, the recovery may take longer. In this case, you should also follow all the tips advised by your doctor.

Q. What are the benefits of minimally invasive hysterectomy?

A. Laparoscopic, robotic, and vaginal hysterectomy are called minimally invasive hysterectomy as it involves a small incision and inflicts minimal to almost no bleeding.

Following are the benefits of choosing a minimally invasive procedure for a hysterectomy:-

  • Less pain after surgery
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Same-day surgery and discharge post-procedure
  • Promotes quicker and comfortable recovery

Q. How to prepare for a hysterectomy or things to do before hysterectomy?

A. Before undergoing a hysterectomy, you should keep a few things in mind to ensure that the surgery gets completed and you recover smoothly.

  • Have blood tests done a laboratory
  • Undergo the imaging tests performed, such as an ultrasound, MRI, or chest x-ray.
  • Obtain clearance from your primary care physician or specialists if you have certain medical conditions.
  • Quit smoking and stop alcohol consumption as they can lead to complications.
  • You might need iron supplements via oral medications or IV transfusion if you suffer from anemia. If your surgeon asks you to complete these tasks, please be sure to do so on time.
  • Undergo the additional testing before surgery, such as EKG or stress test.

To help prepare for the surgery, you need to be in the best overall health possible. Therefore, you should also keep the following points in mind:-

  • If you smoke, it's recommended that you quit smoking one month before your surgical procedure.
  • If you are suffering from a chronic condition called COPD, it's recommended that you stop smoking two months before your surgery.
  • If you have diabetes, try to keep your blood sugar regular before the surgery.
  • Increase your physical activity before the week/month of your surgery, as being physically fit is extremely important. In addition, doing so can help your recover faster.
  • Eat a healthy diet with enough vegetables, fruits, protein, and carbohydrates.
  • Keep a family member or a friend to help you during the surgical journey and recovery process.
  • Follow everything advised by your doctor.

Q. What to drink before a hysterectomy?

A. You don't need to go without food or fluids for an extended time before anesthesia. However, you should stop eating solid foods 8 hours before your arrival at the hospital.

You may drink and avoid the liquids listed below up to 2 hours before you arrive at the hospital.

You can take the following liquids.

  • Water
  • Coffee or tea (without milk, creamer, or lemon)
  • Sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
  • Apple juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Sugar or artificial sweeteners are okay

Avoid the following:

  • Milk
  • Broth
  • Alcohol
  • Fruit juice with pulp

You should discuss it with your doctor in case of any doubt. Then, your doctor can help prepare for your surgery.

Q. What are the possible complications of a hysterectomy?

A. Usually, a hysterectomy is a safe and successful procedure with minimal complications. However, the surgery may result in certain possible complications such as:-

  • General anesthetic complications
  • Bleeding
  • Ureter damage
  • Bladder or bowel damage
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Vaginal problems
  • Ovary failure
  • Early menopause

You should keep in mind that you choose an experienced, skilled, reliable, and trustworthy obstetrician-gynecologist for this procedure so that there is no risk of complications.