Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. A hysterectomy may be recommended to women undergoing gynecologic surgery for:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Fibroid tumors
- Pelvic prolapse
In the U.S., doctors perform approximately 600,000 hysterectomies a year, making it the second most common surgery for women.1 While this figure is lower in many other parts of the world, hysterectomy is still a common procedure.
Fortunately, there are more choices than ever before for the type of hysterectomy, as well as the surgical approach (open, vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy).
Approaches to Hysterectomy
- Open Hysterectomy
Surgeons perform the majority of hysterectomies using an open approach. With open surgery, your doctor must make a large abdominal incision – large enough to fit his/her hands and instruments inside your body. While open surgery allows your surgeon to see and touch your organs, there are some drawbacks for patients due to the long incision.
Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy Options
- Vaginal Hysterectomy
With vaginal hysterectomy, the uterus is removed through the vagina without an external incision. Surgeons may use this minimally invasive approach if the patient’s condition is benign (non-cancerous), or when the uterus is a normal size and the condition is limited to the uterus. With vaginal hysterectomy, surgeons have a small working space and may have a difficult time seeing the pelvic organs.
- Laparoscopic Hysterectomy
During a traditional laparoscopic hysterectomy, long and thin instruments are manually inserted through a few small incisions instead of a large open incision. One of the instruments is a laparoscope – a lighted tube with a camera at the end. The camera takes images inside the body and sends those images to a video monitor in the operating room which guides surgeons as they remove your uterus.
- da Vinci® Hysterectomy
With a da Vinci Hysterectomy, surgeons operate through a few small incisions - similar to traditional laparoscopy. The da Vinci System features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and special wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist. As a result, da Vinci enables your doctor to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.
da Vinci is a minimally invasive approach that uses the latest in surgical and robotic technologies and is beneficial for performing complex surgery. Your surgeon is 100% in control of the da Vinci System, which translates his or her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside your body.
Learn more about da Vinci Hysterectomy
Types of Hysterectomy
There are many types of hysterectomy that are performed, depending on the patient’s diagnosis. All hysterectomies remove the uterus. Other reproductive organs and tissues may be removed, depending on your condition. Types of hysterectomy include:
- Partial or subtotal hysterectomy
This procedure, also known as a supracervical hysterectomy, involves removing the uterus, but leaves the cervix intact. This decision is often based upon patient preference. Some women feel that leaving the cervix intact will preserve sexual function following surgery.2
- Total hysterectomy
This procedure involves removing the uterus and the cervix. The vagina remains entirely intact. This is the most common type of hysterectomy performed.
- Removal of lymph nodes
Surgeons may also remove lymph nodes for uterine, cervical, or ovarian cancer. Lymph node removal helps determine the extent or stage of your cancer, and can guide further treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy.
- Removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries
This will depend upon your condition, age, and other factors. Often, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are left intact.3
- Radical hysterectomy
For this procedure, the uterus and cervix are removed.
- Total hysterectomy
This procedure is most often performed for cervical cancer, and involves removal of the uterus, tissues next to the uterus, the upper part (about 1 inch) of the vagina and pelvic lymph nodes. The fallopian tubes and ovaries may also be removed.
- Womenshealth.gov. "Hysterectomy Fact Sheet". Available from: http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/hysterectomy.cfm
- National Institutes of Health., A Service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. "Hysterectomy". Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002915.htm.
All surgery presents risk, including da Vinci Surgery. Results, including cosmetic results, may vary. Serious complications may occur in any surgery, up to and including death. Examples of serious and life-threatening complications, which may require hospitalization, include injury to tissues or organs; bleeding; infection, and internal scarring that can cause long-lasting dysfunction or pain. Temporary pain or nerve injury has been linked to the inverted position often used during abdominal and pelvic surgery. Patients should understand that risks of surgery include potential for human error and potential for equipment failure. Risks specific to minimally invasive surgery may include: a longer operative time; the need to convert the procedure to other surgical techniques; the need for additional or larger incision sites; a longer operation or longer time under anesthesia than your surgeon originally predicts. Converting the procedure to open could mean a longer operative time, long time under anesthesia, and could lead to increased complications. Research suggests that there may be an increased risk of incision-site hernia with single-incision surgery. Patients who bleed easily, have abnormal blood clotting, are pregnant or morbidly obese are typically not candidates for minimally invasive surgery, including da Vinci Surgery. Other surgical approaches are available. Patients should review the risks associated with all surgical approaches. They should talk to their doctors about their surgical experience and to decide if da Vinci is right for them. For more complete information on surgical risks, safety and indications for use, please refer to www.davincisurgery.com/da-vinci-surgery/safety-information.php.
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