Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where the uterus and cervix are removed through an incision into the abdominal cavity. Sometimes, the surgeon will also remove the ovaries at the same time as the uterus and cervix, depending on the patient's complaint and age.
The uterus is a pelvic organ that is primarily designed for pregnancy, but is also the source of your menstruation. The cervix is another name for the bottom third of your uterus which creates the top part of your vagina. The ovaries are two organs (one on each side) that are responsible for producing eggs for fertility and hormones like estrogen and progesterone.
Since the uterus is primarily a reproductive organ, it is often removed after childbearing because of heavy/ abnormal periods; chronic pain; uterine fibroids (benign tumors of the uterus); or cancer. Each year, approximately 600,000 women undergo hysterectomy and one third of women over 60 have undergone a hysterectomy. Those women whom also have their ovaries removed become surgically menopausal and often require supplemental estrogen after surgery.
Hysterectomies can be performed a number of ways, including a total abdominal hysterectomy, a vaginal hysterectomy, and through minimally invasive surgery called a laparoscopic hysterectomy. A total abdominal hysterectomy is performed through a 5-7 cm incision on the abdomen where the uterus is taken out. Most patients stay in the hospital for 2-3 days after surgery and recovery is 4-6 weeks. A vaginal hysterectomy is performed through an incision in the patient's vagina and requires an overnight hospital stay along with 2-4 weeks recovery.
One of the most exciting new and cutting edge techniques that has been introduced to gynecology in the last 5-10 years is laparoscopy. This has opened the door to enabling surgeons to remove the uterus and if needed, the ovaries through minimally invasive techniques. A laparoscopic hysterectomy involves removing the uterus through 3-4 small (around 1 cm) incisions in the patient's abdomen, cutting hospital stays to less than 24 hours and recovery to 1-2 weeks. Thus, our patient's can get back to their lives quicker with less pain, shorter recovery, and more cosmetic scars.
At Central Alabama OB/GYN Associates, PA, we are proud to be a leader in advanced laparoscopic surgery and the only provider of laparoscopic hysterectomies in Central Alabama including the Montgomery metro area. We use a technique developed by Ethicon Endo-Surgery that allows us to perform laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomies. Our average patient stay is about 24 hours and most of our patients are back to full function by 1-2 weeks. Also, by not removing the cervix, we offer our patients better vaginal and bladder support.