Although there are other medical procedures that can be used for fibroids, for some women the best treatment is a hysterectomy. The pros of this surgery are that it provides a definitive treatment and greatly decreases the risk of recurrence. Performing a hysterectomy for fibroids also has a number of cons, including the risks of bleeding, infection, and accidental injury to other parts of the woman’s body. Additionally, women who get a hysterectomy will have limited reproductive options.
A hysterectomy for fibroids is considered to be a definitive therapy for this condition. It should stop problems with excessive vaginal bleeding and pain secondary to the growths. The hysterectomy removes the entire uterus as well as any of the fibroids that protrude from the uterus.
Removing the fibroids and the uterus entirely has a couple of other benefits. No new fibroids should develop after the surgery, so symptoms should not recur in the future. Excising the fibroids also means that they cannot transform into a more invasive type of tumor. Although fibroids are benign growths, they can rarely turn into a leiomyosarcoma, which is a malignant cancer. If a hysterectomy is performed, this cancer should not develop.
One major con of performing a hysterectomy for fibroids is that it diminishes a woman’s reproductive capabilities. Without a uterus, a woman cannot carry a pregnancy. If her ovaries are left in her body, the eggs could be harvested, fertilized, and implanted in another woman who can serve as a surrogate mother for the pregnancy. This option is expensive, and as a result many women who get a hysterectomy might not be able to have more biological children.
The risks associated with the surgery are also a con for performing a hysterectomy for fibroids. The surgery requires women to be put under general anesthesia, which has a small chance for complications such as lung infection, heart attack and death. All surgeries also carry the risks of bleeding, infection and blood clots.
Other possible hysterectomy complications are specific to the procedure. One major risk is damage to the ureters, which are the tubes carrying urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Damage to these structures could result in kidney dysfunction. Lower urinary tract injury, including damage to the bladder and urethra, could result in urinary incontinence. Injury to the bowel during the course of the surgery could result in adhesions, which can cause intestinal obstruction after the surgery.
Hysterectomies can be performed by a number of different methods, and each type of surgery has some unique characteristics in terms of complications and risks. The most invasive type of hysterectomy is the abdominal hysterectomy, in which the surgeon makes a large cut in the abdomen in order to remove the uterus. Other approaches include laparoscopic and vaginal hysterectomies, which are less invasive techniques. The surgeon might choose a certain type of procedure based on the size of the fibroids and on the other clinical features unique to the patient.