What is a Hysterectomy?

Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus to treat a wide variety of uterine conditions, is performed over 600,000 times each year. This makes it the second most common surgical procedure for women. When medication and non-invasive procedures are unable to relieve symptoms, surgery remains the accepted and most effective treatment for a range of gynecologic conditions.

Do you offer the vNOTES hysterectomy?

YES! vNOTES (vaginal natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery) is the newest advancement in minimally invasive gynecologic surgeryand is offered at Minnesota Women's Care. With vNOTES, the hysterectomy is performed vaginally using a camera and instruments placed through a vaginal incision. 

Why do women have a Hysterectomy?

Hysterectomy is a common procedure affecting millions of women and one of the most common procedures performed in the USA. The three most common reasons are fibroids, pelvic pain, and vaginal bleeding. Other reasons may include cervical and uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse and menorrhagia or excessive bleeding.

What is the typical Hysterectomy procedure?

In the USA, the majority of hysterectomies are performed using an “open” approach, which is through a large 6 to 12-inch abdominal incision. This has been the standard approach for many years. For some women, open surgery can lead to significant pain, trauma, a long recovery process and threat to surrounding organs and nerves. For women facing gynecologic surgery, the period of pain, discomfort and extended time away from normal daily activities that usually follows traditional surgery can understandably cause significant anxiety.

At Minnesota Women's Care, we believe in using minimally invasive procedures wherever possible. Read on to find out why this makes a difference.

Our Approach
Minimally Invasive Surgery Procedures

As noted, most hysterectomies in the US are open hysterectomies. While rare cases may call for an open hysterectomy, more than 99% of the hysterectomies performed at Minnesota Women's Care are minimally invasive procedures. This means that the surgery is performed with a much smaller incision. In real terms, for you as a patient, this means a faster recovery time and less pain.

Our team of physicians utilize vaginal, laparoscopic, and da Vinci procedures to access the target anatomy. When hysterectomy is necessary, our providers take all the patient factors in consideration before recommending an approach.

These are the basic types of hysterectomies that are considered to be minimally invasive:

vNOTES Vaginal Hysterectomy

With a vaginal approach, the entire surgery is performed through an incision in the vagina. This results in a low complication rate and a fast recovery.

Vaginal natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (vNOTES) is a new technology offered at Minnesota Women's Care. During this procedure, a hysterectomy is performed vaginally using a camera and instruments placed through a vaginal incision. The benefits of the vNOTES technology include improved visualization and the ability to perform more complex hysterectomies vaginally. Women often experience a shorter hospital stay, less postoperative pain, no visible scars, and a faster recovery time.

Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

During this procedure, several small incisions are made in the abdomen. A lighted instrument with a camera is inserted through one of the incisions. The uterus is cut into small pieces and removed through the incisions.

da Vinci® Robotic Assisted Hysterectomy

Our surgeons use the da Vinci Surgical Robot for most of the hysterectomies performed. This system allows us to use much smaller incisions and smaller surgical tools. For our patients, there’s less pain, less blood loss during surgery and a much faster recovery.

An important advancement in Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy

Following the FDA warning in 2014, many physicians stopped using minimally invasive surgery for laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomies. For women who desired treatment that left the cervix intact, the surgical options were limited. That has now changed. Dr. Ashford is one of the few surgeons in the US to use the PneumoLiner system – allowing him once again to be able to perform this specialized kind of hysterectomy. You can read more about this advancement here: Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy with the PneumoLiner

During a hysterectomy, the uterus (or womb) is removed. In some instances, the ovaries may also be removed at the same time.

Other Considerations
Removal or Preservation of Ovaries

In some cases, our physicians may recommend that you have your ovaries removed (oophorectomy) during your hysterectomy. For many other women, the ovaries are not removed. An oophorectomy may be recommended for these kinds of conditions: endometriosis, ovarian cysts, prevention of breast and ovarian cancer if you are at greater risk, ovarian cancer, and ovarian infections. We will discuss this with you in detail so you have a complete understanding of the risks and benefits. 

Benefits of the da Vinci Hysterectomy

The da Vinci System includes a 3D high definition system which allows our surgeons to operate with an unequalled view of the abdominal area. The state-of-the-art surgical tools are controlled directly and offer more precision and control than other comparable minimally invasive procedures. The system allows our surgeons to perform highly complex surgeries without the large incision that was previously required for this kind of surgery.

Benefits of operating using the da Vinci system are clear. The list includes:

  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Less blood loss during surgery
  • Faster recovery
  • Minimal scarring

More about the da Vinci Surgical System

The da Vinci Surgical System allows our physicians to perform surgery with enhanced precision and control – using only a few small incisions. Click here to read more about the da Vinci assisted hysterectomy.

What our patients say:

Dr. Ashford is an excellent surgeon. He was able to help me when others doctors could not.
N.P. - Patient

Do you need a second opinion?

If your physician has recommended an open hysterectomy, we encourage you to find out if a minimally-invasive procedure would be a better option for you. Our physicians are available for second opinions.

Our patients have been pleasantly surprised by their fast recovery and how different their experience was from their mother or grandmother. As our founder, Dr. Ashford, says, "It’s really gratifying to me as a physician to be able to bring relief to women after years of suffering from painful conditions and to do so in a way that provides for a smooth recovery and a faster return to their busy lives."