What is a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is considered one of the most common surgical procedures performed on American women of childbearing age. According to the National Women’s Health Network, about 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States every year. This translates to approximately 20 million women having had the procedure. The operation involves the partial or total removal of the uterus to address certain issues in a woman’s reproductive system.
Hysterectomies are typically performed due to conditions like uterine fibroids or benign growths that cause pain and bleeding, cancer of the uterus, ovaries, or cervix, chronic pelvic pain, adenomyosis, and endometriosis. Because the procedure prevents women from having children after their operation, most doctors prefer it as a final option after all alternatives have been exhausted. A supracervical or subtotal hysterectomy refers to the procedure where only the upper part of the uterus is extracted. If a hysterectomy involves the removal of the entire uterus including the cervix, it is called a total hysterectomy. More severe cases might also lead to the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
There are several different ways to perform a hysterectomy. Primarily, the procedure can be done through traditional open surgery or noninvasive laparoscopic methods. Open surgery entails a 5 to 7 inch incision in the abdomen. Meanwhile, a minimally invasive hysterectomy is done through small incisions either in the abdomen or the vagina. The uterus is then accessed by the surgeon through the use of laparoscopic medical tools and devices.
A common device used in minimally invasive hysterectomies is a power morecellator. First manufactured in the 1990s, this device makes use of fast spinning blades to cut large tissues into smaller pieces so they can be removed easily through the 0.5 to 1 centimeters incision. However, the use of morcellators recently came into question when developments showed that the device could inadvertently cause undiagnosed uterine cancer to spread more easily. As quoted by the website of Williams Kherkher, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning against the power morcellators. Its leading manufacturers have also pulled out their products off the market.