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Uterus Removal by Abdominal Hysterectomy

What is an abdominal hysterectomy?

An abdominal hysterectomy is surgery to remove part or all of the uterus through a cut in the belly (abdomen). The ovaries or fallopian tubes (other female organs) may also be removed when the uterus is removed.

The uterus (womb) is the muscular organ at the top of the vagina. Babies grow in the uterus, and menstrual blood comes from the uterus. If you were having menstrual periods before the surgery, you will no longer have them after the operation. Without your uterus you will not be able to get pregnant.

When is it used?

There are many reasons why your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to remove your uterus. Some of the problems that may be treated with a hysterectomy are:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding that has not been controlled with other treatments
  • Noncancerous growths in the uterus called fibroids
  • Abnormal growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus (endometriosis)
  • A uterus that has dropped down into the vagina
  • Cancer of the uterus, ovaries, or cervix (opening to the uterus)
  • Pelvic pain that has not been controlled with other treatments

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Make plans for your care and recovery after you have the procedure. Find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure. Allow for time to rest and try to find other people to help with your day-to-day tasks while you recover.
  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure. Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have any food or medicine allergies.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

The procedure will be done at the hospital.

You will be given medicine called anesthesia to keep you from feeling pain. Depending on the medicine, you may be awake or asleep during the procedure.

Your healthcare provider will make 1 large cut or several small cuts in your belly. If small cuts are made, your provider will use a lighted tube with a camera called a laparoscope to help see inside the belly. Your provider will remove the uterus. The ovaries or fallopian tubes (other female organs) may also be removed. Your provider will then close the cuts in your belly.

What happens after the procedure?

You may stay in the hospital 2 to 3 days.

You may have some pain, nausea, vomiting, or constipation after the procedure. Your healthcare provider may give you medicine or recommend other ways to treat these problems.

If your ovaries are removed, menopause will start right away if you haven’t already had menopause. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine, such as hormone therapy, to help relieve some of the symptoms of menopause. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about these effects and treatments with your provider before the surgery.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities you should avoid, including how much weight you can lift, and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • You may have problems with anesthesia.
  • You may have an infection, bleeding, or blood clots.
  • Other parts of your body may be injured during the procedure.

Ask your healthcare provider how the risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-07-17
Last reviewed: 2014-07-17
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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