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Types of Hysterectomy

Definition of Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the uterus, or womb. The doctor may also remove the fallopian tubes, ovaries and/or the cervix during the same surgery.

Hysterectomy Terms based on What is Removed:

  • Supracervical Hysterectomy (also called “Subtotal Hysterectomy” or “Partial Hysterectomy”): Removes the uterus but leaves the cervix in place, which some research suggests may reduce the risk of pelvic organ prolapse and preserve sexual function.

  • Total Hysterectomy (“Traditional Hysterectomy”): Removes the uterus and cervix.

  • Radical Hysterectomy: May remove all of these organs (the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries), plus the pelvic lymph nodes.

Hysterectomy Terms Based on How the Surgery is Performed:

  • Laparoscopic: With this hysterectomy method, a thin, lighted, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope, along with small surgical instruments, are inserted into the abdomen through 3 to 4 tiny incisions, to remove the uterus. It usually requires no more than 1-3 days in the hospital. Recovery takes from 6 days to about 3-4 weeks, depending on the type of laparoscopic hysterectomy. Based upon your clinical need, your doctor might perform a Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy (LSH), allowing you to keep your cervix, or a Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy (TLH).

  • Vaginal: This hysterectomy method uses a smaller incision inside the vagina to remove the uterus and other organs, as determined by your doctor. This incision is not visible externally. Vaginal hysterectomies usually require a 1-3 day hospital stay and a 3-4 week recovery.

  • Abdominal (also known as Open): This hysterectomy method requires either a small up and down incision from the pubic bone to the belly button or a horizontal incision just above the pubic bone to remove the uterus and cervix and, in some cases, other organs. The most invasive kind of hysterectomy, this type is performed under general anesthesia, with a typical hospital stay of 3-6 days and up to 6 weeks of recovery time.

Know your hysterectomy options

Type of Hysterectomy What is it? What does it look like? Hospital Stay Recovery Time
Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy (LSH) A specific type of laparoscopic hysterectomy in which the cervix is left in place 1 day or less 6 days
Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy (TLH) A type of laparoscopic hysterectomy in which the uterus and cervix are removed 1-3 days 3-4 weeks
Vaginal Hysterectomy Uterus, cervix and sometimes other organs are removed via a smaller incision inside the vagina 1-3 days 3-4 weeks
Abdominal Hysterectomy Uterus, cervix and sometimes other organs are removed via a 4- to 8-inch horizontal incision below the belly button 3-6 days 4-6 weeks

Speak up About your Hysterectomy Choices

If you and your doctor have determined that hysterectomy is the best course of action for your symptoms, make sure you talk through your choices of procedure. And consider getting a second opinion. Today’s less invasive hysterectomy options, like laparoscopic or vaginal, can help you significantly reduce hospital and recovery times, and minimize scarring and pain afterwards.1,2

Talk to your doctor about which organs need to be removed, too. Some research suggests keeping your cervix after hysterectomy may reduce the risk of pelvic floor prolapse and preserve sexual function. A laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy offers a less invasive alternative to traditional abdominal hysterectomy and allows you to retain your cervix.

Click here for a list of questions to ask your doctor (381 kb)

Before making a final decision about your treatment, review all your options, and consider getting a second opinion.

1. Sarmini OR, Lefholz K, Froeschke M. A comparison of laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy and total abdominal hysterectomy outcomes. J Min Invas Gyn. 2005;12:121-124.
2. Candiani M, Izzo S, Bulfoni A, Riparini J, Ronzoni S, Marconi A. Laparoscopic vs vaginal hysterectomy for benign pathology. Am J Obstet Gyn. 2009; 368.


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