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An abdominal hysterectomy is an operation performed under general anaesthetic to remove the womb (uterus). It is a common surgical procedure which may also involve the removal of the fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix to cure or alleviate a number of gynaecological complaints.
An abdominal hysterectomy is usually considered a last resort after other treatments have failed unless it is performed as a life saving measure for conditions such as cancer. The decision to have a hysterectomy should be shared between you and your doctor. In most cases an abdominal hysterectomy is needed to relieve either acute or chronic painful and distressing symptoms.
Some of the reasons for an abdominal hysterectomy include:
There are several different types of abdominal hysterectomy including:
At your pre-op assessment and on your admission day, the nurse will go through your hospital stay and explain your operation. Please do let us know about any concerns you have or if there is any information you think we should know about that will make your stay with us more comfortable.
Prior to coming into hospital you will need to make arrangements for your family and children or any other commitments that you have to cover the length of your recovery. On arrival you will see an anaesthetist and the doctor performing the surgery before you go to theatre. It is not unusual to feel anxious; the nursing staff will gladly discuss how you are feeling and talk you through your emotions.
On the day of your admission please do not eat anything six hours before your admission time this includes sweets and chewing gum. You can drink plain water up to two hours before your admission time.
Please note the following:
An abdominal hysterectomy involves removing the uterus through a cut in the abdomen. The incision (cut) is usually across the tummy (transverse) leaving a scar in the bikini area which is approximately 10cm long. Occasionally it is necessary to make a slightly larger incision vertically (up and down) your tummy (midline). This will be discussed with the doctor before your operation.
There are risks with any operation but these are small. The main risks associated with an abdominal hysterectomy are:
In order for you to make an informed choice about your surgery please ask one of the doctors or nurses if you have any questions about the operation before signing the consent form
As you come round from the anaesthetic you may experience episodes of pain and/or nausea. Please let the nursing staff know and they will assess you and take appropriate action. You will be given oral or intravenous pain relief such as paracetamol and / or a non-steroidal anti-inflamatory. You may also have pain buster (10 cal anaesthetic continuous wound intusion) PCA pump (Patient Controlled Analgesia) or an epidural to control your pain.
This will be discussed with you before the operation by the anaesthetist. The nurses will assess you regularly to ensure that the pain relief is effective. The nurses will ask you to score your pain with ‘0’ being ‘No pain’ and ‘10’ being ‘Very Strong Pain’.
Your nurse will be checking your blood pressure, pulse, breathing and temperature and monitor the wound and any vaginal bleeding. S/he will also ask you to move from side to side and to do leg and breathing exercises once you are able, this will help prevent any pressure damage,a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) or chest infection.
You will have a drip attached in your arm (intravenous infusion); once you are fully awake you will be able to start drinking and eating. Your drip will then be discontinued. You may also have a catheter which will drain your urine. This is normally removed after 24–48 hours. We will monitor your urine output to make sure you are emptying your bladder properly and ask to measure two samples after the catheter has been removed. We may scan your bladder after you have passed urine to make sure it is emptying well.
You may also have a drain which is inserted through your lower abdominal wall to drain off any fluid which may accumulate immediately after your operation. This is normally removed after 24–48 hours.
You can expect pain or discomfort in your lower abdomen for the first few days after the operation. You will be given pain killers to alleviate this.
The nursing staff will assist with washing as necessary and encourage early movement. We would normally expect you to sit out of bed the day after your operation.
You will have a dressing on the wound that will be removed after 48 hours. You will be able to shower and mobilise around the ward.
You may experience trapped wind which can cause discomfort, peppermint water and getting up and walking around will help this. You may also find it difficult to open your bowels at first, we will give you mild laxatives to soften your stools and prevent constipation and straining.
After your operation the nursing staff will administer a blood thinning injection to help prevent a DVT. You may be required to do this yourself at home – the Gynaecologist will inform you if this is relevant to you.
You will be seen and assessed by the gynaecology team each day to check on your recovery and decisions will be made about your care, this information will be shared with you. Please feel free to ask questions about your operation and recovery at any time.
The average length of stay following an abdominal hysterectomy is two to three days but can be up to five days. As you physically recover from your operation, the nursing team will discuss your convalescence. To ensure you have a good recovery you should take note of the following:
This will be discussed with you prior to leaving the hospital.
You may decide not to have surgery and want to try alternative methods of improving your symptoms such as:
These can be discussed with your doctor.
If you have any problems or are worried, please do not hesitate to contact us on the gynaecology ward:
Royal Sussex County Hospital
Telephone: 01273 523191
Princess Royal Hospital
Telephone: 01444 441881 extension 65686
2 Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Abdominal Hysterectomy for Benign Conditions. (20 May 2009). Consent Advice No.4.
3 Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Abdominal hysterectomy. (22 Oct 2015).
This information is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information here is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: October 2021
Review Date: July 2024