(Surgical Removal of the Uterus; Abdominal Hysterectomy)
by Editorial Staff and Contributors
Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.
Hysterectomy is a surgery to remove the uterus. There are different types of surgeries, such as:
Laparoscopic surgery uses small incisions to access the area. It can lead to fewer problems and shorter recovery than open surgery. Scars from the surgery will also be much smaller.
Reasons for Procedure
A hysterectomy may be done if there are health problems that cannot be treated by other means. Some common reasons are:
Surgery is often the last choice. Other treatments are often tried first.
Complications are not common but all procedures have some risks. The doctor will review a list of possible problems from this surgery including:
Some things may increase the risk of problems such as:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The doctor will review results from earlier tests. Before the procedure the doctor may ask:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep during the surgery.
Description of the Procedure
Your care team may give antibiotics just before surgery.
Small cuts are made in the lower belly. Small tools and a tiny camera are passed through the incisions. The surgeon will be able to see inside the belly. The uterus can be removed through these openings. Additional options include:
Immediately After Procedure
IV fluids and medicine will be given in recovery.
How Long Will It Take?
1 to 3 hours—although it may take longer
Will It Hurt?
You will not have pain during the surgery because of the anesthesia. The lower belly and incision will be sore for a few weeks. Pain medicine and support can ease discomfort. It will ease over time.
Average Hospital Stay
You may go home on the same day or the next. A longer stay may be needed if there are problems.
At the Hospital
You will be encouraged to walk. A catheter may be left in place to help pass urine.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
Movement can be uncomfortable for a few weeks. Some activity will be limited.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Medical Association
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee Opinion No 701: Choosing the route of hysterectomy for benign disease. Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Jun;129(6):e155-e159.
Hysterectomy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
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Updated March 2015. Accessed March 19, 2020.
Hysterectomy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/hysterectomy/. Updated August 16, 2019. Accessed March 19, 2020.
Nesbitt-Hawes EM, et al. Laparoscopic subtotal hysterectomy: evidence and techniques. J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2013 Jul-Aug;20(4):424.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
Last Updated: 9/16/2020