Just like any surgical procedure, a hysterectomy has its own risks and possible complications.
What is a Hysterectomy and why is it performed?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that consists of removing the uterus. The uterus of a woman may cause pain due to a medical issue. In this case, a doctor or gynecologist can examine the uterus and run some tests to see what the issue is. If it cannot be cured, the uterus may be removed.
The most common reasons a woman needs to undergo a hysterectomy procedure are as follow:
• Uterine fibroids,
• Abnormal vaginal bleeding,
• Chronic pelvic pain,
• Pelvic inflammatory disease,
• Cervical dysplasia,
• Cervical cancer,
• Uterine cancer,
• Ovarian cancer, etc.
Today, there are different surgical techniques used for performing a hysterectomy when needed, such as:
• Vaginal hysterectomy – is a surgical procedure during which the uterus is removed through the vagina. This type of hysterectomy is commonly performed in cases of endometrial hyperplasia, cervical dysplasia, uterine prolapse, etc.
• Total abdominal hysterectomy – is the most common type of hysterectomy performed among women worldwide. This surgical procedure consists of a total removal of the uterus including the cervix. This type of hysterectomy is commonly performed in cases of ovary cancer, uterine cancer, large uterine fibroids, endometriosis, etc.
• Supracervical hysterectomy – is a surgical procedure during which the uterus is removed but the cervix is spared. A supracervical hysterectomy is recommended in cases when there is no medical indication for removing the cervix. However, later in life, there is always the possibility of cancer development in this part of the cervix that has not been surgically removed at the same time as the uterus. This type of hysterectomy decreases the risk of vaginal prolapse as it provides some kind of support for the vagina.
• Laparoscopy – assisted vaginal hysterectomy – is a similar surgical procedure to the vaginal hysterectomy, but includes the use of a laparoscope. During this procedure, the upper part of the abdomen is carefully inspected when needed. Such as in cases when the removal of the ovaries is planned as well, or in cases of early stages of endometrial cancer.
• Laparoscopic supra cervical hysterectomy – is similar to laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy. Though, the difference between these two surgical procedures consists of the fact that in laparoscopic supra cervical hysterectomy the uterus is separated from the cervix and later removed through a laparoscopic incision. The cervix is preserved in this type of surgery. Thus, the recovery period is faster.
• Radical hysterectomy – is an extensive type of surgery usually performed in cases where early stages of cervical cancer are noted. This surgical procedure consists of not only removing the uterus and the cervix but also removing the upper part of the vagina and the surrounding tissues as well. There is a great possibility of a urinary system injury, as well as a bowel injury.
• Oophorectomy and scalping - oophorectomy is a surgical procedure which consists of the removal of the ovaries in cases of oophorectomy. In the case of scalping - oophorectomy the adjacent Fallopian tubes are removed as well. These two surgical procedures combined with hysterectomy are performed in cases of ovarian cancer, Fallopian tube cancer, uterine cancer, etc.
Just like any surgical procedure, a hysterectomy has its own risks and possible complications. However, in most of the cases, women do not have any complications at all after this surgical procedure.
According to different studies, vaginal hysterectomies are linked with fewer risks and complications when compared to abdominal or laparoscopic hysterectomies. The more radical the surgical procedure is the greater is the possibility of various risks and complications following hysterectomy.
Also, the recovery period is shorter in cases of vaginal hysterectomy, when compared to laparoscopic or abdominal hysterectomies. Hysterectomy risks and complications greatly depend upon the type of hysterectomy procedure performed, as well as, the overall health of the women undergoing the surgery.
Common risks and complications following a hysterectomy regarding of its type include:
• Blood clots,
• Heavy blood loss,
• Bladder injury,
• Bowel injury,
• Adhesions in the pelvic area,
• Weakness of the pelvic muscles and ligaments which normally support the vagina, rectum and the bladder,
• Difficulties urinating,
• Early menopause,
• Anesthesia problems, etc.
Recovering after hysterectomy
Even though a hysterectomy is a safe surgical procedure, it is often associated with various risks and complications. In general, hospitalization for a couple of days and sometimes weeks following the surgery is required. It only depends on the overall health of the patient and the reason why this procedure is performed in the first place. The recovery period will also depend on the type of hysterectomy performed.
In cases of vaginal hysterectomy, the recovery period is faster compared to laparoscopic hysterectomy, and even longer for an abdominal hysterectomy. After a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy, women should be able to return to their normal daily routines within three to four weeks. In cases of abdominal hysterectomy, the recovery period will take a little bit longer, about four to six weeks.
However, for a certain period of time after the surgery lifting heavy things, pushing or pulling objects, bending and even sexual intercourse should be avoided.