Definition - What does Vaginal Hysterectomy mean?
A vaginal hysterectomy refers to the surgical removal of the uterus via the vaginal route. There are two other types of hysterectomy, including laparoscopic and abdominal hysterectomy. When applicable, a vaginal hysterectomy is considered the safest procedure designed for removal of the uterus.
FertilitySmarts explains Vaginal Hysterectomy
A vaginal hysterectomy may be indicated in the following conditions:
- Fibroids that cause pain, bleeding, or other problems and/or are not responsive to alternative therapies
- Endometriosis causing intractable symptoms
- Uterine prolapse
- Cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium or ovaries
Not all women are candidates for a vaginal hysterectomy. For instance, women with adhesions from a previous surgery or whose uterus is considerable large, may not be able to have this type of surgery.
Just like any other surgery, the woman will need some preparation prior to vaginal hysterectomy. The pubic area will be scrubbed with an antiseptic solution and shaved. The procedure is done under general anesthesia. A tube will be inserted into the throat to facilitate breathing. A tube called catheter may be inserted into the bladder to empty urine.
The surgeon first makes a cut in the vagina while taking care not to injure other nearby structures. The pelvic area is then entered with the help of forceps and scissors, while the uterine ligaments are identified, clamped, cut, and stitched. The blood vessels are clamped and the uterus is detached from the vagina, bladder, fallopian tubes, and ovaries and finally removed through the vagina with the aid of instruments. The surgeon finally seals the vaginal cut with dissolvable stitches. Sometimes, the surgeon may use a tube called laparoscope to guide the removal of the uterus and/or fallopian tubes through the vagina, a procedure called a laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy.
Following a vaginal hysterectomy, a woman may experience:
- Abdominal cramps and/or bloating
- Bloody vaginal discharge with a mild odor (may continue for a few days to several weeks)
- Passage of blood clots
- Allergic reaction to anesthesia
- Bowel obstruction
- Urinary problems
The procedure can take one to three hours. Recovery time after a vaginal hysterectomy is shorter than that of an abdominal hysterectomy. Also, the associated risks with the vaginal approach are less than that of the abdominal route.