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What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of a woman’s uterus to treat a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions of the uterus and reproductive system. The uterus is a pear-shaped organ located in the lower abdominal (pelvic) area where a baby grows during pregnancy.

Hysterectomy is a common but major surgery with significant risks and potential complications. Removing the uterus also means you will no longer be able to bear children. Your body may experience other changes as well, including early menopause if both of your ovaries are removed. Less invasive treatment options may be available to you depending on your condition and specific circumstance, so you should consider getting a second opinion about your treatment options before having a hysterectomy.

Types of hysterectomy

The types of hysterectomy procedures include:

  • Supracervical hysterectomy (subtotal or partial hysterectomy) is removal of part of the uterus, leaving the cervix intact.

  • Total hysterectomy is removal of both the uterus and the cervix.

  • Radical hysterectomy is an extensive surgery that includes removal of the uterus, the top of the vagina, and tissues around the cervix. Your doctor may perform a radical hysterectomy if you have cancer.

Other surgical procedures that may be performed

Your doctor may perform other procedures in addition to a hysterectomy. These include:

  • Oophorectomy is the removal of one or both ovaries, which are glands that produce a woman’s eggs and female hormones.

  • Salpingectomy is the removal of one or both fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries to the uterus.

Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: May 7, 2013

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Medical References

  1. Hysterectomy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  2. Hysterectomy.
  3. Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62.

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