What is a Hysterectomy?

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. These include, but are not limited to, cervical and uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse and menorrhagia or excessive bleeding. Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that is an effective treatment for a number of conditions.

Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus to treat a wide variety of uterine condition is performed over 600,000 times each year. This makes it the second most common surgical procedure for women.

In the USA, the majority of hysterectomies are performed using an “open” approach, which is through a large abdominal incision. An open approach to the hysterectomy procedure requires a 6-12 inch incision. Traditional open gynecologic surgery, using this large incision for access to the uterus and surrounding anatomy, has for many years been the standard approach to many gynecologic procedures. Yet with open surgery can come 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.

Fortunately, less invasive options are available. Dr. Ashford utilizes vaginal, laparoscopic and da Vinci procedures to access the target anatomy. When hysterectomy is necessary Dr. Ashford takes all the patient factors in consideration before recommending an approach.

Are there different kinds of hysterectomy procedures?

Yes. 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 Dr. Ashford performs 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.

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

Vaginal Hysterectomy

For several decades, physicians have been routinely performing vaginal hysterectomies. This is where an incision is made in the vagina and the uterus is removed through this incision. There is no incision visible on the abdomen.

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

Dr. Ashford uses the da Vinci Surgical Robot for most of the hysterectomies performed. This system allows him 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.

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

Benefits of the da Vinci Hysterectomy

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

Over the years he has been operating with the da Vinci system, the benefits to patients are clear. The list includes:

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

If your physician has recommended a hysterectomy, we encourage you to find out if this surgical process is right for you. Dr. Ashford's patients have been pleasantly surprised by their fast recovery and how different their experience was from their mother or grandmother. 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."

Additional hysterectomy information:

The da Vinci Surgical System allows Dr. Ashford 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:

I have had incredible results working with Dr. Ashford and his staff. Before meeting with him I had been dealing with severe pelvic pain for over two years. Most doctors, even specialists, did not know how to reduce my pain level. I had tried many therapies and nothing had worked until I met Dr. Ashford. After a few months working with him and his therapy and medication treatment I have seen a dramatic improvement with my symptoms. These people really know what they are doing and are patient and compassionate enough to take the time to listen and explore the many options that can help you. I highly recommend you give Minnesota Women's Care a chance to help you feel your best!
R.S. - Saint Paul