March 5, 2008

Hysterectomy – Complications and Risks

Posted in Category : Women's Health

A hysterectomy is a medical procedure conducted on a woman, for the purpose of removing the uterus. This organ is responsible for carrying out certain important body functions, especially the regulation of your menstrual, ovulation and reproduction cycles. The uterus or the womb is also that part or the body where your baby grows and develops during the course of pregnancy.

Hysterectomies are very common among women of various ages, for several different reasons. Most women are asked to undergo this surgical procedure because of health problems like –

  • Cancer of the uterus or cervix
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids in the uterus
  • Heavy and persistent vaginal bleeding during periods
  • Scarring or adhesions in the uterus
  • Severe and chronic pain in the pelvis
  • Uterine prolapse

There are two ways in which the uterus can be removed surgically. Depending upon your reason for undergoing the operation, your health care provider may suggest one of the procedures given below –

  • Abdominal Hysterectomy: A vertical or horizontal incision is made on your abdomen and the uterus is removed through these incisions. To carry out an abdominal hysterectomy, the doctor will pass laparoscopic instruments through the tiny abdominal incisions.
  • Vaginal Hysterectomy: An incision is made in the vagina, through which the uterus is removed from the body. In some instances, doctors may recommend a robotic hysterectomy or a laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy.

The hysterectomy is regarded as one of the safest medical procedures in the US; data shows that less than 10% of all women who have had a hysterectomy experience any major or minor complication as a result of the procedure. However there are a few risks associated with almost every surgery, including a hysterectomy. Given below are some of the possible uterus removal complications and risks that you may face after a hysterectomy –

  • Adverse reaction to the anesthesia used during the surgery
  • Difficulty in passing urine
  • Formation of blood clots
  • Infections in the bladder or the wound site
  • Hematoma or the collection of blood at the site of the incision
  • Injury to the organs that are close by, such as the intestines or the bladder
  • Light or moderate bleeding, which may continue through the recovery period
  • Pain, numbness and tingling sensation
  • Scarring, bruising and swelling
  • Wound separation or dehiscence

You are more likely to experience surgical risks and complications in case you are suffering from health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity. Most of these complications are not serious and should get better within a few days or weeks. However, it is essential to let your surgeon know about any problems you face, just to keep these complications from worsening. Your doctor may prescribe medication to control the pain and speed up the recovery process.

Younger women need to be prepared for a particular problem after removing the uterus and that is the early onset of menopause. Also bear in mind that a hysterectomy, which is an irreversible procedure, ends your ability to get pregnant. This is probably why several women have experienced problems like depression and loss of sexual desire after getting the uterus removed. On the other hand, several women claim to have experienced increased sense of well-being, higher sexual enjoyment and better mood after undergoing a hysterectomy.

Though rare, in some instances a hysterectomy can also lead to death in some women.

Therefore, before you decide to undergo a hysterectomy, do consult your doctor and discuss all the possible risks or complications that may arise after the surgery. Your doctor may be able to suggest ways in which the uterus removal complications can be avoided or at least minimized and thus make it safer and easier.