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What is an abdominal hysterectomy?
An abdominal hysterectomy is a procedure in which the uterus is removed through a cut in the abdomen. The uterus is the muscular organ at the top of the vagina. Babies develop in the uterus, and menstrual blood comes from the uterus. Other female organs may also be removed when the uterus is removed:
When is it used?
There are many reasons why you and your healthcare provider may decide to take out your uterus. Some of the problems that may be treated with a hysterectomy are:
What are the benefits of this procedure?
A hysterectomy takes care of problems you may have been having with your uterus. For example, it removes any tumors that may have been in your uterus and it stops menstrual periods and any pain you may have been having.
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
There are some risks when you have general anesthesia. Discuss these risks with your healthcare provider. A regional anesthetic may not numb the area quite enough and you may feel some minor discomfort. Also, in rare cases, you may have an allergic reaction to the drug used in this type of anesthesia. Regional anesthesia is considered safer than general anesthesia. Additional risks include:
How do I prepare for an abdominal hysterectomy?
Be sure to tell your health care provider what medicines you are taking, including nonprescription drugs and herbal remedies.
Follow your health care provider's instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers heal more slowly after surgery. They are also more likely to have breathing problems during surgery. For this reason, if you are a smoker, you should quit at least 2 weeks before the procedure. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
If you need a minor pain reliever in the week before surgery, choose acetaminophen rather than aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. This helps avoid extra bleeding during surgery. If you are taking daily aspirin for a medical condition, ask your provider if you need to stop taking it before your surgery. Also, your wounds will heal much better if you do not smoke after surgery. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider what medicines you are taking, including nonprescription drugs and herbal remedies.
Follow any other instructions your provider gives you. If you are to have general anesthesia, eat a light meal, such as soup or salad, the night before midnight. Do not eat or drink after midnight. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.
Your provider may give you a bowel prep to begin a day or so before the surgery. And your provider may shave your lower abdomen down to the top of the pelvis.
What happens after the procedure?
The IV and catheter are removed 1 or 2 days after the surgery. You may stay in the hospital for 2 to 5 days. If the walls of your vagina were repaired, you may stay in the hospital longer while the bladder heals and starts working again. You may go home with a catheter, which is a tube used to drain urine from the bladder until the bladder starts working well again. Your provider will check how well your bladder is working at a follow-up visit.
After you go home, get plenty of rest. Do not do any heavy lifting or otherwise strain the stomach muscles for 4 to 6 weeks. Follow your health care provider's instructions for activity, dealing with pain, and preventing constipation. Ask your provider what other steps you should take and when you should come back for a checkup.
If you were having menstrual periods before the surgery, you will no longer have them after the operation. You also cannot become pregnant. If you have concerns about this, discuss them with your health care provider before the surgery.
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