Hysterectomy complications are common, and some women may experience just a few while others may have many complications and these can be severe or even fatal at times. Some complications can happen during the hysterectomy procedure, and others may develop after the surgery is finished and you are recovering.
During a hysterectomy, complications can include perforation, vital sign fluctuations, and many other complications. Problems after hysterectomy can include fever, infections, excessive scarring, and many others which can range from being mildly unsightly to severely limiting your function.
More than six hundred thousand women have a hysterectomy every year, and roughly one tenth of one percent of these women will die as a result of this surgery. This means more than six hundred deaths each year simply from hysterectomy complications, and studies show that three out of four surgeries involving a hysterectomy are for benign conditions like excessive bleeding and fibroids.
After a hysterectomy many women experience signs of menopause, and this is true even if the ovaries are left in place. Some studies show that as many as half of all women who have a hysterectomy but keep the ovaries will suffer from ovarian failure within five years of the procedure.
Because of all the serious hysterectomy complications that can occur, this surgery should only be performed when every other treatment option has been tried for conditions which are benign, and these treatments have proven to be ineffective. This type of surgery can have serious or even life threatening complications, and it should never be agreed to unless you have no other options left or you have a serious condition like cancer that makes this the best possible choice.
Hysterectomy complications during surgery can range from mild to fatal, and some of these can be devastating. Some of these complications may prevent work or even your usual daily activities, and some may cause death or permanent injuries and disabilities.
Some of the complications that occur during the surgery can be corrected right away, such as when another organ or other tissue type is accidentally perforated or injured, but other complications may not be noticed until the procedure is completed. In some cases additional surgeries may be required to address the complications if they are serious.
Some hysterectomy complications are a result of the general anesthesia drugs given during the surgery to keep you asleep and unaware of the procedure. While many people never experience any problems with anesthesia other patients die from complications that these drugs can cause.
If you have ever had any problems with general anesthesia you should let your surgeon know this, so that the safest method and drugs can be chosen for your procedure. In some cases general anesthesia can not be used because of the high risks involved, and if this is the case then your surgeon may have to explore other possibilities for your procedure instead.
Some of the possible hysterectomy complications that are caused by anesthesia can include:
There are many possible problems after hysterectomy that can occur. Some of these may be temporary and may only last a short time while others may be permanent and will not ever go away.
Hysterectomy complications can impact your ability to live a normal life, and most of these surgeries are performed for benign reasons. In some cases a hysterectomy can even lead to death because of complications after the procedure.
Possible complications that can occur after you have had a hysterectomy can include:
Because of all the possible hysterectomy complications that can occur, both during and after the procedure, this surgery should never be performed unless there is no other alternative. There are some risk factors that may help determine if you are at a higher than normal risk for any complications.
Diabetes is one disease that can cause problems after hysterectomy, because the amount of sugar in the blood may not be controlled continuously and this can affect wound healing. If you are diabetic then this is a risk factor that can lead to a higher rate of complications, such as poor healing.
Some genetic factors can also lead to higher hysterectomy complication risks. Malignant hyperthermia can be a complication of the anesthesia used during the procedure which can cause serious problems or even death, and this is a genetic condition that can be determined before surgery with a simple muscle biopsy and testing.
Excessive hysterectomy scar tissue growth occurs more often in certain races, and African Americans have a higher incidence of this type of growth than many other races but this complication can affect anyone. If there is a family history of this problem then you could be at a higher risk of developing this complication.
Poor nutrition, infections which are present before surgery, heart disease, and other factors can also play a role in what types of complications can occur. Before your surgery your surgeon should evaluate all of your risk factors and determine whether or not you are at a high risk for complications.
Unfortunately there is no guaranteed way to predict which patients will experience hysterectomy complications and which patients will come through this surgery just fine. Determining the risk factors can help, but even this is not perfect and some patients who have no prior risk factors will die on the operating table or during the recovery period.
Some complications can be prevented by taking certain steps before the procedure starts, such as giving antibiotics both before and after surgery to prevent any infection from occurring. Testing is usually done before the surgery is planned to ensure that there are no hidden conditions which could cause problems after hysterectomy or during the procedure, such as anemia or a low blood count.
While surgeons take every possible precaution to prevent hysterectomy complications sometimes these occur without any warning at all. Many of these complications are not the result of malpractice or an inexperienced surgeon, and it may not always be possible to predict or prevent these problems no matter how much care is used.
Obesity and existing medical conditions can indicate a higher risk of possible complications and problems resulting from a hysterectomy, but even these indicators are not foolproof. Some morbidly obese patients with other medical conditions may handle surgery just fine, while others with perfect health and no risk factors may experience complications.
Approximately eighty percent of the hysterectomies performed in the USA are done for conditions which are benign, and which pose no threat to the life of the patient. This has led some medical experts to speak out against this practice in the belief that this surgery is performed when it may not be necessary.
The two biggest and most common reasons why a hysterectomy is performed in this country is to eliminate fibroids and excessive bleeding. Neither of these conditions will cause death, although you may experience pain and other problems like anemia.
Hysterectomy complications that occur can have a big effect on your life, and can even result in death at times. You should always try every possible alternative before agreeing to take the drastic step of having major surgery.
Unless you have cancer or another life threatening condition that makes an immediate hysterectomy necessary you should always consider all of your alternatives first. This can prevent any problems after hysterectomy and will allow you to explore all of your other options before you undergo this risky procedure.
If a hysterectomy is recommended by your doctor you should always get a second opinion before arranging for this surgery. The high rate and seriousness of many hysterectomy complications may be avoided with a second opinion, because you may be told about new technologies and treatments that are just as effective but with fewer problems and complications involved.
Frequently a second opinion can help you understand all of your treatment options, so that you can choose the best treatment for your situation and medical condition. Some surgeons automatically recommend a hysterectomy if a woman has finished having children and suffers from excessive bleeding or fibroids, even though there may be other less invasive treatments that will work just as well.
Advances in medical technology mean that new alternative treatments are continuously being discovered. If you suffer from excessive bleeding and have been advised to have a hysterectomy a second opinion can be essential, and the high risk of hysterectomy complications make this the least desirable option except in limited circumstances.
There are alternative treatments that do not involve the problems after hysterectomy that many women experience, and many of these treatments do not require general anesthesia either. They are usually less invasive and do not involve the severe pain and long recovery period that major surgery entails.
One effective alternative treatment for excessive bleeding is uterine balloon therapy. This treatment does not require general anesthesia or major surgery, and there are very few side effects or complications experienced with this treatment.
Uterine balloon therapy will cause infertility, because the uterine lining is destroyed during the procedure so it is not possible to conceive or carry a child to term. The benefit is that this alternative treatment can be just as effective as a hysterectomy but without all of the possible hysterectomy complications that can occur.
Uterine balloon therapy does not involve an incision, so there is no hysterectomy scar or risk of excessive scar tissue growth after surgery. There is only minor discomfort during the treatment, and then you may experience some bleeding and cramping afterwards.
Dr. Kenneth DeSandies specializes in women's reproductive health, and has extensive experience with uterine balloon therapy. If you have been advised that a hysterectomy is necessary for excessive bleeding then Dr. DeSandies may be able to offer other options which are just as effective and much safer.