Hysterectomy: Learn About Complications and Side Effects

Hysterectomy Preparation

Prior to considering a hysterectomy, your doctor should review both the attendant risks and benefits if the procedure, and discuss any appropriate alternative treatment options. A thorough physical examination, including blood tests, is necessary prior to surgery. In some cases, imaging studies (such as ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans) will be carried out prior to the procedure. If appropriate, an endometrial biopsy (sampling of tissue inside the uterus) may be done to rule outcancer or a precancerous condition of the uterine lining is present.

Depending upon the type of procedure chosen and the type of anesthesia, further preparations may include fasting prior to the operation.

Hysterectomy Procedure

All hysterectomies are performed under regional or general anesthesia in a hospital operating room.

A number of different procedures for hysterectomy are used. Some require standard surgical incisions while others are performed primarily via laparoscopy with small abdominal incisions for insertion of the laparoscope and other surgical instruments.

Hysterectomy Post-Procedure

Women are encouraged to get up and walk within a day of the operation (within hours after a laparoscopic procedure) to reduce the possibility of developing blood clots in the legs and to speed overall healing.Analgesicsare given to control pain at the incision sites. Some women experience nauseafollowing the procedure, particularly after a general anesthetic. Full recovery from a total abdominal hysterectomy can take 4 to 6 weeks. Recovery times are shorter for a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy. Sexual intercourse can resume 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure.

Hysterectomy Risks and Complications

Complications of hysterectomy, as with any major surgical procedure, include bleeding and infection along with any risks related to the drugs used in anesthesia. Other possible complications specific to hysterectomy include injury to the bowel, bladder, or ureter; nerve damage; and urinary tract infection; or even death.

If a premenopausal woman undergoes hysterectomy with concurrent removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy), menopausal symptoms will typically begin within a few days. These symptoms can include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, discomfort during sexual intercourse, and mood disturbances. If appropriate, these symptoms can be managed with hormone therapy (HT).

Hysterectomy Follow-up

Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment for several weeks following the procedure. The frequency of other follow-up visits will depend largely on the progress of the patient.

Hysterectomy Outlook

Hysterectomy is a common and generally very safe procedure. Most women recover fully with no complications. It is a very effective treatment for fibroid tumors, adenomyosis, and abnormal vaginal bleeding when less aggressive treatment options have not been successful. The outlook for hysterectomy when used as part of treatment for cervical or uterine cancer depends upon the exact type and stage (extent of spread) of cancer and varies according to the individual case.

Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology

REFERENCE:

eMedicine.com. "Hysterectomy." <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/267273-overview>

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Hysterectomy: Learn About Complications and Side Effects

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