Understanding the Risks of Hysterectomies

alternatives to hysterectomy in atlanta

During a hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the patient's uterus. Sometimes, a hysterectomy may also involve the removal of one or both ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and the cervix. Although a hysterectomy may be needed for certain medical conditions, such as cancer of the reproductive organs, it is generally considered to be an unnecessarily radical treatment for conditions such as uterine fibroids. With alternatives to hysterectomy in Atlanta, such as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), women can avoid the following complications.

Anesthesia Complications

When uterine fibroids are resolved through a hysterectomy, women are placed under general anesthesia. While not all women will experience adverse reactions to general anesthesia, when reactions do occur, they can be serious. Complications of a general anesthetic can include allergic reactions, nerve damage, and death.

Damage of Nearby Structures

Unlike embolization, the hysterectomy procedure carries the risk of serious damage to bodily structures that are close to the uterus. Patients who undergo a hysterectomy run the risk of suffering damage to the ureter, bladder, bowel, rectum, or other pelvic structures. If the bladder and bowel sustain damage, women may suffer from incontinence. Some women may require a urinary catheter or a colostomy bag.

Blood Clots

Women who have UFE enjoy a very short recovery period. In contrast, women who undergo a hysterectomy may have a recovery period of weeks or even months. During this time, patients enjoy very little physical activity, which greatly increases the risk of blood clot development. Blood clots are potentially life-threatening. If they dislodge from the site of formation, they can travel to the heart and cause a heart attack. Pulmonary embolism occurs when blood clots travel to the lungs and stroke can occur if they travel to the brain.

Ovary Failure

Women who are considering a hysterectomy for uterine fibroids should be aware that even if the ovaries are left intact, they could fail within five years of the surgery. This is because the blood supply to the ovaries becomes disrupted.

Premature menopause

The removal of the ovaries can result in premature menopause. Although hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is available to help women cope with the symptoms of menopause, they will have a higher risk of osteoporosis if menopause occurs before the age of 40.