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Since there is more than one type of hysterectomy, it makes sense to take a look at each of these proceedures a little closer since they target and deal with different areas and symptoms. Each are major operations involving removal of at least the uterus. It is important to talk with your surgeon about the kind of hysterectomy recommended for you, and the difference between each. ( Click on the graphic to listen to a short talk from the Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services Foundation)


Subtotal Hysterectomy

This is where only the upper part of the uterus is removed, but the cervix is not. The fallopian tubes and ovaries may or may not be removed. This procedure is always done through the abdomen. After this operation, you would still need to have regular pap/smear tests to prevent cervical cancer.

Total Hysterectomy

or Total Abdominal Hysterectomy

This is where both the body of the uterus and the cervix, the lower part of the uterus are removed. Hysterectomy can sometimes be done through the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy) but this often depends upon the size or mass of the uterus and at other times, a surgical incision in the lower tummy in the natural crease is made (abdominal hysterectomy) is preferable especially when it is difficult to safely remove the uterus through the vagina.

Vaginal Hysterectomy

A vaginal hysterectomy is performed when it can be done safely and generally involves fewer complications, a shorter recovery period and no visible scar.

Complete Hysterectomy

This is a non-medical term that usually means a total hysterectomy plus removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Radical Hysterectomy

This procedure is carried out for serious disease such as cancer. The entire uterus and usually both fallopian tubes and ovaries as well as the pelvic lymph nodes are removed through the abdomen. Since cancer is unpredictable, other organs or parts are sometimes removed dependant upon how far the cancer has spread.

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