Hysterectomy, surgical removal of the uterus (womb), is one of the most commonly
performed procedures in the United States. According to the American Association of
Obstetricians and Gynecologist, more than 650,000 women nationwide undergo hysterectomy
for abnormal uterine bleeding, fibroids, which are benign uterine tumors, chronic pelvic
inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and uterine or ovarian cancer. This results in the inability
to become pregnant. Women can have a hysterectomy if their uterus is causing health problems
that cannot be treated by other means. Women should be encouraged to explore all their options
before having a hysterectomy.
Laparoscopy was pioneered by gynecologists in the early 1960s, and has been widely
used in a range of procedures, including tubal ligation, the removal of ovaries and fibroids and
the treatment of tubal pregnancies. Laparoscopy is also used for gallbladder removal,
appendectomy, hernia repair, and lung and bowel surgery. In one of the newest applications, also
developed by our group, it is being used to repair the bladder to treat urinary stress incontinence.
Laparoscopic hysterectomy requires more skill than abdominal hysterectomy because the
surgeon is operating through a camera. Technically, it is a more difficult procedure. Patients
should choose a surgeon who is experienced in working with lasers and laparoscopy, and should
be presented all of the available medical options for relief of their pain and/or bleeding, in
addition to surgical alternatives.
This type of surgery can be performed several different ways, including partial or subtotal
hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus, without removing the cervix. Total, complete,
or simple hysterectomy describes the removal of the uterus and cervix, which is the opening of
the uterus leading to the vagina. Radical hysterectomy is the most invasive and includes the