A partial hysterectomy refers to the medically labeled subtotal hysterectomy. In a partial hysterectomy, the doctor only removes the uterus, leaving the ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervix in place. Doctors perform this procedure either through a large abdominal incision or through three smaller incisions using laparoscopy. In laparoscopic partial hysterectomy, the surgeon then cuts the uterus into thin strips to fit through the small incisions.
Compared to other forms of hysterectomy, the subtotal laparoscopic hysterectomy has a shortened recovery period. This procedure is sometimes an outpatient surgery, meaning there’s no required overnight stay. Most of the time the doctor requires a one-night hospital stay after a partial hysterectomy for patient observation. Leaving the cervix in may reduce the chances of vaginal dryness and bladder dysfunction due to hysterectomy surgery.
Because the doctor does not remove the cervix, pap smears are still necessary for a woman that undergoes a partial hysterectomy. Any women who had an abnormal pap smear in the past are still at risk for cervical cancer. Sometimes a small piece of the uterus is left in addition to the cervix and can cause light menstrual bleeding.
Before considering hysterectomy, women should discuss other options with their doctor. Always try less invasive alternatives first if they can appropriately address the problems. In some cases, such as when uterine cancer may be present, the hysterectomy may be the only choice to ensure a positive outcome.
Partial hysterectomy is a surgery and has risks common to all surgical procedures. These risks include reactions or allergies to anesthesia and possible internal injury from the sharp instruments used to cut out the uterus.
The alternatives to a hysterectomy procedure depend entirely on why the hysterectomy is necessary. If abnormal bleeding is the reason for hysterectomy, uterine ablation, birth control or an intrauterine device (IUD) are common alternative choices. For severe cramping, other choices are uterine ablation, IUD, birth control or pain medication. For abnormal uterine lining or cervical problems, removal of just the affected tissue is a viable alternative.
To ensure that a hysterectomy is the best choice, find a trustworthy doctor. A good and experienced surgeon can minimize scarring from the procedure and is less likely to accidentally cut other organs. If unsure about hysterectomy, seek a second opinion to clarify the situation.