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About hysterectomy

Last updated on 13th September 2015

Subtotal and total laparoscopic hysterectomy is performed to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) through the vagina using keyhole surgery (laparoscopy). If the cervix (the “neck of the womb”) is also removed this is known as a total hysterectomy. If the cervix remains, this is a sub-total hysterectomy. The operation may also be combined with removal of your ovaries as well (“bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy”). It is important to clarify the risks and benefits of this with your doctor.

A hysterectomy may be performed because of problems with heavy periods, pain or prolapse (see sheet on prolapse). If there is significant other vaginal prolapse, the operation may also be combined with a vaginal repair (see separate sheet). If you are suffering with urinary stress incontinence, the doctor may also perform additional surgery (see separate sheet).

If you have problems with prolapse, it is likely that some additional supporting stitches will be used to help support the top (vault) of the vagina, to lessen the chances of prolapse returning.

What happens after the operation?

After the operation, you may experience nausea and wound pain. Medication will be given to relieve these symptoms. You will normally be allowed to drink and eat on the same day of operation.  The urinary catheter will normally be removed later on the following day. The nurse looking after you will make sure you are passing water without a problem and check there is not a large volume of urine left in the bladder after you have finished urinating. A small number of women will not adequately empty their bladders. They may have to go home with a catheter in and come back a week later for removal of the catheter. If a vaginal pack / bandage is used at the time of surgery, it is removed the following day.

There is likely to be some vaginal bleeding after surgery, and this may take a few days to settle down. You are likely to experience pain in the abdomen / pelvis that will require regular painkillers for up to a couple of weeks following surgery. Providing there are no problems you will be allowed home a one-three days after surgery.

Are there any risks?

Laparoscopic hysterectomy is a safe and effective operation, but as with any surgical procedure there are risks. The risks common to all operations include anaesthetic risks, infection, bleeding, recurrence of symptoms, and formation of a blood clot in the legs/lungs. The main risks specific to a hysterectomy are:

What should I do after the operation?

You should be back on your feet quite quickly, but you avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks. There may be some bleeding / brown vaginal discharge as the wounds in the vagina heal which is completely normal.

Sexual intercourse may be resumed after 6 weeks if you are feeling comfortable and the discharge has stopped. We generally suggest at least 4 weeks off work.

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