Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes your uterus through an incision in your lower abdomen. Your uterus — or womb — is where a baby grows if you’re pregnant. A partial hysterectomy removes just the uterus, leaving the cervix intact. A total hysterectomy removes the uterus and the cervix.

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Sometimes a hysterectomy includes removal of one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes, a procedure called a total hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy (sal-ping-go-o-of-uh-REK-tuh-me).

A hysterectomy can also be performed through an incision in the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy) or by a laparoscopic or robotic surgical approach — which uses long, thin instruments passed through small abdominal incisions.

An abdominal hysterectomy may be recommended over other types of hysterectomy if:

  • You have a large uterus.
  • Your doctor wants to check other pelvic organs for signs of disease.
  • Your surgeon feels it’s in your best interest to have an abdominal hysterectomy.

Laparoscopic hysterectomies have been clearly associated with decreased blood loss, shorter hospital stay, speedier return to normal activities, and fewer abdominal wall infections when compared with abdominal hysterectomies.4–6 In light of these findings, a recent review concluded that vaginal hysterectomy is preferable to abdominal hysterectomy and that a laparoscopic hysterectomy should be attempted when vaginal hysterectomy is not possible.6 The vaginal approach is less expensive, but may be challenging in patients with a history of an adnexal mass, endometriosis, pelvic pain, and prior abdominal surgery, or in patients with a narrow pubic arch or poor vaginal descent.


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