What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a procedure for removal of the uterus. The uterus has one function only: it provides a location for growth and development of the embryo and fetus during pregnancy. The uterus does not produce hormones and has no role in sexual satisfaction or orgasm. After hysterectomy, a woman cannot get pregnant and will not have menstrual periods. Deciding whether or not to have a hysterectomy, or surgical removal of the uterus, is a weighty and personal decision. Dr. Garofalo can help you to decide if a hysterectomy is the best solution for your symptoms and conditions.
If you’re considering a hysterectomy, you’re not alone. More than 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States every year, and a third of all women in the United States can be expected to have a hysterectomy by age 60.
Conditions that can be treated via hysterectomy include:
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Uterine fibroids
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Pre-cancererous conditions and cancers of the uterus or ovaries
- Severe endometriosis (improper growth of the uterine lining)
- BRCA carriers (a genetic condition predisposing to ovarian cancer)
Maureen’s da Vinci Hysterectomy experience
Pamela’s Hysterctomy experience
Types of hysterectomy
In general, when surgery is needed, the best approach is the least invasive approach that can safely be used for the underlying condition and the patient’s unique characteristics such as prior surgery, obesity, and concurrent medical conditions.
Vaginal hysterectomy is the least invasive type of hysterectomy. It is an approach that allows us to remove the uterus without the need for any abdominal incisions. Patients who undergo vaginal hysterectomy have less postoperative pain, less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay, and faster recuperation than any other type of hysterectomy. Whenever possible, a vaginal hysterectomy should be the preferred route of hysterectomy. In some cases, such as severe endometriosis, large fibroids, or severe adhesions, vaginal hysterectomy may not be an option.
When vaginal hysterectomy is not an option, the next best approach to hysterectomy is laparoscopic hysterectomy. Laparoscopic hysterectomy is performed by placing a fiber-optic scope (a laparoscope) into the abdominal cavity. The scope transmits an image of the operative field to a video monitor that Dr. Garofalo uses to guide the operation. Two or three operating instruments are usually placed through small abdominal incisions that measure less than one half-inch in length. Laparoscopic hysterectomy is almost as minimally invasive as vaginal hysterectomy. By avoiding the need for large abdominal incisions, patients who have a laparoscopic hysterectomy can usually be discharged from the hospital less than 24 hours after the procedure and return to most daily activities in about one week.
Da Vinci hysterectomy:
Dr. Garofalo also offers a procedure called da Vinci hysterectomy, which provides the advantages of laparoscopy but with the control and precision needed for very complex hysterectomies. Using the da Vinci® Surgical System, da Vinci hysterectomy is a state-of-the-art surgical procedure that uses very small abdominal incisions and computer technology to convert Dr. Garofalo’s hand movements into precise micro-movements of the da Vinci instruments. Da Vinci hysterectomy is about as minimally invasive as laparoscopic hysterectomy.
An “open” hysterectomy, which is performed through a 6- to 12-inch abdominal incision, is necessary in some situations such as ovarian cancer or severe scarring from multiple prior surgeries. However, like any abdominal surgery, abdominal hysterectomy may result in more blood loss, a longer hospital stay, and longer recovery time (up to six weeks).
If you decide to have a hysterectomy, you will need to decide about keeping or removing your cervix, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries. If the ovaries can be left intact, the hysterectomy does not cause any hormonal changes or result in uncomfortable symptoms like hot flushes and vaginal dryness. Dr. Garofalo can help you to decide about these important questions.
Dr. Garofalo’s hysterectomy experience:
Dr. Garofalo has performed more than 1,000 hysterectomies over 25 years of medical practice.