Many women find themselves faced with having to undergo a procedure called a hysterectomy. There are many reasons why a woman may have to have a hysterectomy, including cysts or tumors, an excessive amount of bleeding throughout the menstrual cycle, and a number of infections and diseases that can compromise the female’s reproductive system. As with any surgical procedure there could be hysterectomy complications.
The actual operation consists of removing the uterus, or the womb. The cervix, fallopian tubes, and the ovaries may also need to be removed during this surgery. After a hysterectomy, the woman does not have further menstrual cycles and can no longer become pregnant.
The procedure itself is performed in one of two ways. The uterus can be removed through an incision made in the lower portion of the abdomen; the other way is through an incision at the upper portion of the vagina. Some physicians may have to utilize parts of each method. The procedure is performed in an out-patient office using a general anesthetic. It takes from one to two hours to complete the hysterectomy.
What Are the Reasons for Having a Hysterectomy?
Some of the reasons that a hysterectomy is called for include:
- Complications from an inter-uterine device (IUD)
- Menstrual bleeding that regularly surpasses normal levels
- Fibroids, which are non-cancerous tumors that have grown inside the uterine walls
- A bacterial inflammation of the pelvis that is usually transmitted sexually
- Damage to the floor muscles of the pelvic area called prolapse
- Cancer of the uterus, ovaries or cervix causing severe pain during the woman’s period
- Endometriosis, which is where the cells from the uterus begin to progress to the ovaries, the abdomen lining, and the pelvis area
Possible Hysterectomy Complications
- General anesthesia: Complications from being administered general anesthesia are very rare, about 1 in 10,000. Some of the problems could result in a reaction to the anesthesia, damage to the nerves, and there is a chance of 1 in 100,000 that the patient could die.
- Damage to the ureter: Only about 1 % of patients having a hysterectomy end up with damage to their ureter. If it does occur, it is usually repaired before the end of the procedure.
- Excessive bleeding: One of the possiblecomplications of hysterectomyis excessive bleeding. There are some cases where a patient may develop a hemorrhage from the operation. This would cause an excessive amount of bleeding and the patient may require a transfusion.
- Damage to the bowel or bladder: There are some instances where damage to the bowel or bladder is a result of complications after hysterectomy. These issues are repaired before the end of the procedure.
- An infection: An infection can occur as a result of just about any operation; an antibiotic can usually ease the aftermath of an infection from a hysterectomy.
- Failure of the ovary: The removal of the uterus will eliminate some of the blood that flows through a woman’s ovaries. If her ovaries were not removed during the hysterectomy, chances are that they will need to be removed up to five years after the procedure.
- Problems with the vagina: If the hysterectomy you had was performed through the upper part of your vagina,one of the possible complications after hysterectomy you could experience is prolapse in the future.
- Thrombosis: In order to prevent the chance of a blood clot that can halt circulation in a vein, also known as thrombosis, you may be administered a blood thinner. It is also the reason patients are encouraged to stand up and begin moving after an operation as soon as they are able.
- Premature menopause: If you are less than 40 years of age, you may experience early menopause as one of your hysterectomy complications. Once your hormone levels change and you are no longer ovulating, you could experience hot flashes and all of the other menopausal symptoms.
Other Complications of Hysterectomy That May Occur
All procedures can result in any number of complications following a surgery. Some of these problems are more serious than others. Some of the lesser situations can include: vomiting; nausea; shortness of breath; a UTI or urinary tract infection; a hernia; general weakness; short term problems with your eye sight; tingling or numbness; and problems with the incision.
More serious conditions include: blood clot; pneumonia or a collapsed lung; the spread of cancerous cells; a blocked bowel or intestine; problems with the amount of drainage from the incision site; problems healing; inability of urine to leave the bladder; failure of the kidneys; a stroke; and even death.
How Is a Hysterectomy Performed?
In order to eliminate the risk of hysterectomy complications, you may want to know what is involved before and during this procedure. Make sure you alert your physician regarding any health issues you have.
- A complete explanation of the procedure will be discussed with you at which time you can ask any questions you may have.
- You will be given an IV which will make it more convenient to keep you hydrated and give you the anesthesia required for the operation.
- Your pelvic area may be shaved.
- A test of your urine as well as blood tests will be administered.
- You may have to have an enema to make sure the bowel is completely empty and cleansed.
- You will be given general anesthesia.
- A spinal anesthesia may also be administered.
- The uterus will be removed through your vagina or abdomen.
- Different instruments – from a laparoscope to robotic tools – will be used to ensure a complete and successful operation.
- A hysterectomy will take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.
The lengths of time you will be required to remain in the hospital after the procedure depends on what shape you were in before the operation. Any pre-existing conditions you may have, such as diabetes, allergies, and high blood pressure, could hamper your healing abilities. The amount of pain medications you need following the surgery will determine how soon you can drive again and when you will be allowed to return to work.