The uterus is a hollow, muscular organ that holds and feeds a fertilized egg. A wide variety of conditions can affect the uterus. Traditionally, many conditions affecting the uterus are treated with hysterectomy - the surgical removal of the uterus. In the United States, doctors perform about 600,000 hysterectomies every year, making it the second most common surgical procedure.
Hysterectomy can be a life-saving treatment for such serious conditions as cancer or uncontrollable bleeding. In many cases, though, hysterectomy is an elective procedure performed to relieve chronic pain, bleeding or other disabling conditions. These may be caused by fibroids (noncancerous tumors); endometriosis (noncancerous growth of the uterine lining) or prolapsed (falling or slipping of the uterus).
Hysterectomy can sometimes be performed through the vagina. However, when the uterus is enlarged - for example, from fibroids or cancer - an abdominal hysterectomy is preferable. This requires a 6- to 12-inch incision. In some cases, doctors also remove the ovaries because they are thought to release hormones contributing to the condition.
While hysterectomy is relatively safe, it may not be appropriate or necessary for all individuals or conditions. Alternative treatments that can preserve the uterus or ovaries may be available.
If surgery is the best course of treatment, many women are good candidates for a less invasive surgical da Vinci Hysterectomy. This procedure uses a state-of-the-art surgical system designed to help your surgeon perform a more precise, minimally invasive procedure. For most women, da Vinci Hysterectomy offers numerous potential benefits over traditional surgical approaches, including:
- Shorter hospital stay
- Less pain
- Faster recovery
- Quicker return to normal activities
- Less risk of wound infection
- Less blood loss
- Less scarring