There are certain severe medical conditions that require such a dramatic intervention:
- Cancer of the uterus or cervix
- Fibroids: non-cancerous tumours inside the uterus that cause pain, bleeding or other complications
- Endometriosis (it is a medical condition in which the tissue that normally forms on the uterus’s inside wall, develops outside the uterus)
- Uterine prolapse: when the uterus is no longer sustained by ligaments and tissues and it ‘falls’ on top of the vagina, causing different complications
- Vaginal bleeding that is not responsive to other possible treatments
- Chronic pelvic pain that cannot be treated
Depending on the seriousness of the patient’s illness, the surgeon can decide to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes. In any case, the most important result after such a surgical intervention is that the woman cannot become pregnant ever again. In treating cancer, hysterectomy can be the only chance of survival, but in any of the other issues it is better to try alternative treatments first if the wish of having a baby is still present.
Performing the operation: available options
Vaginal hysterectomy: the uterus is removed through the vagina, by using a very non-invasive technique that allows rapid physical recovery.
Using this method is not always available, depends on the health condition of each patient.
Abdominal Hysterectomy: The uterus is extracted through a vertical or horizontal abdominal incision.
It is a common method used for treating cancer or removing large tumors, but the recovery takes longer and the infection and complication risks are higher.
Total laparoscopic hysterectomy: the uterus is removed throug a small incision in the abdomen and with the help of a laparoscope, a special surgical tool that allows the surgeon to see inside the abdominal cavity.
Laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy is similar to the previous method, only that the uterus is removed through the vagina, with the assistance of a laparoscope, that can, for example, be used to detach the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy involves performing the surgery with the help of a medical robot attached to the laparoscope. It is a relativly new technique that has not been used on such a wide scale in order to provide information on the suplimentary benefits.
Compared to abdominal hysterectomy, laparoscopic hysterectomy has a series of benefits that make it a more preffered method: there is less pain because the incisions are smaller, the recovery after surgery is shorter and the risk of getting an infection is significantly reduced.
The downside of laparoscopic intervention is that it takes a longer time to perform, thus increasing the level of risks of complications that arise during general anesthesia.
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