According to the National Women's Health Network and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hysterectomy is the second most frequently performed surgical procedure (after cesarean section) for women in the United States. Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the U.S.
As with any life-changing operation, it’s imperative that you explore all options with your health care provider to ensure hysterectomy is medically necessary. Typically, a hysterectomy is a required intervention in the case of several life-threatening conditions, which include:
With continued advancements in technology, a variety of surgical options for hysterectomy exist: vaginal, laparoscopic-assisted vaginal, abdominal and laparoscopic-assisted abdominal. Although there several options for rapid recovery, it’s important to understand that the least invasive may not be the best choice for you.
"Every patient is different in terms of how they recover and what type of specific surgery they require," says David Druckman, MD, OB/GYN at Park Nicollet Clinic and clinical director of women’s health at St. Francis. "Ultimately, the procedure you and your doctor choose should be dictated by the underlying condition being treated, as well as the patient’s medical or surgical history and their individual pelvic anatomy. There are many things that factor in."
A highly trained gynecologist performs the surgery and all seven of the gynecologists at St. Francis offer the full range of options. Hysterectomies may also need to be combined with reconstruction procedures to address urinary incontinence from prolapsed pelvic relaxation, cancer or other complicated circumstance. Many conditions, such as abnormal bleeding, can be managed without a hysterectomy.
"Endometrial ablation has become a widely held option to remove excess endometrial lining, for instance," Druckman says. Uterine fibroids, another common condition, can often be treated with antiestrogen drugs and laser ablation, rather than having to remove reproductive organs. Be sure to speak to your physician about your options if you are experiencing symptoms or have been diagnosed with any of the above conditions, as well as endometriosis or uterine prolapse, or if you have pre-cancerous cells.
"No matter what option you choose the goal is always to provide a safe procedure with minimal hospital stay and a quick recovery," Dr. Druckman adds, "Always talk to your physician before deciding what procedure you want."