Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. It may also involve removal of the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes and other surrounding structures.
Usually performed by a gynecologist, hysterectomy may be total (removing the body, fundus, and cervix of the uterus; often called "complete") or partial (removal of the uterine body while leaving the cervix intact; also called "supracervical"). It is the most commonly performed gynecological surgical procedure. In 2003, over 600,000 hysterectomies were performed in the United States alone, of which over 90% were performed for benign conditions. Such rates being highest in the industrialized world has led to the major controversy that hysterectomies are being largely performed for unwarranted and unnecessary reasons.
Removal of the uterus renders the patient unable to bear children (as does removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes) and has surgical risks as well as long-term effects, so the surgery is normally recommended when other treatment options are not available or have failed. It is expected that the frequency of hysterectomies for non-malignant indications will fall as there are good alternatives in many cases.
Occasionally, women will express a desire to undergo an elective hysterectomy—that is, a hysterectomy for reasons other than the resolution of reproductive system conditions or illnesses. Some of the conditions under which a woman may request to have a hysterectomy (or have one requested for her if the woman is incapable of making the request) for non-illness reasons include:
Hysterectomy is a major surgical procedure that has risks and benefits, and affects a woman's hormonal balance and overall health for the rest of her life. Because of this, hysterectomy is normally recommended as a last resort to remedy certain intractable uterine/reproductive system conditions. Such conditions include, but are not limited to:
Cancer that arises from the endometrium, the lining of the uterus.
Thickening of the lining of the uterus.
The finger like overgrowths attached to the inner wall of the uterus that extend into the uterine cavity which are made of endometrial tissue
A state in which pieces of the tissue alike to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grow in other parts of the body.
A type of cancer in which abnormal cells begin to grow in one or both of a woman's ovaries.