A hysterectomy is a surgery in which a woman's uterus is removed, according to WebMD. There are several types of hysterectomies, including a total hysterectomy, in which the entire uterus and cervix are removed, and a subtotal hysterectomy, in which only the upper part of the uterus is removed.
Hysterectomies are used to treat a number of problems, including painful or bleeding uterine fibroids, cancer of the uterus or cervix, and thickening of the uterus, explains WebMD. Women with endometriosis or abnormal vaginal bleeding may also undergo hysterectomies if other treatments have failed to alleviate their symptoms.
There are two main types of surgical approaches used for hysterectomies, states WebMD. Open surgery hysterectomies, which account for about 65 percent of all hysterectomies, involve making a 5- to 7-inch incision in the abdomen and removing the uterus through this incision. Women typically spend about three days in the hospital following an open surgery hysterectomy. Some hysterectomies are performed using minimally invasive techniques, such as removing the uterus through an incision in the vagina or a small incision in the abdominal wall. Robotic tools and cameras are generally used to assist in these minimally invasive hysterectomies. While these approaches allow for a shorter recovery time and less scarring, they are typically more expensive than open surgery.