A hysterectomy procedure removes all the uterus or just a part of it, leaving the cervix (the lower portion of the uterus) in place. The ovaries may also be removed in a procedure called an oophorectomy that can be performed at the same time.
A hysterectomy can be recommended for the treatment of several conditions, including:
Because a hysterectomy removes all or part of the uterus, women who have the procedure can no longer become pregnant. For women who would like to become pregnant, alternative treatment options may be available for some conditions.
Hysterectomies can be performed using minimally-invasive techniques that rely on small or internal incisions or using traditional “open surgery” techniques through larger incisions in the belly. Minimally invasive hysterectomies are also called laparoscopic hysterectomies, and they use a slim, flexible instrument called a laparoscope. The scope is equipped with a tiny camera that sends real-time video from “inside” the surgical site to a video monitor where they’re magnified. The doctor performs the surgery using special instruments that can be controlled with the scope so only small incisions are necessary. Some minimally-invasive hysterectomies can be performed through incisions in the vaginal wall, eliminating the need for any incisions through the belly.
Minimally-invasive surgery has been associated with faster healing, less tissue damage and less postop discomfort compared to surgeries that use larger incisions, but some women are not candidates for minimally-invasive techniques. For instance, open surgical techniques are often a better approach in women who have uterine cancer since the larger incision helps the doctor ensure all the cancerous tissue has been removed.