by Justina Hurley


  • Data from the UK suggests a hysterectomy rate of 42/100,000 population, with higher-rates in the United States (143/100,000) and Canada (108/100,000). Countries with no waiting times for surgeries have even higher-rates, with Germany reporting rates of 236/100,000 and Australia 165/100,0003. [Source: Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association; 2004. OECD Health Data 2003; pp. 5–7.]
  • The word hysterectomy is from the Ancient Greek hystera (womb”) + ektomia, (a cutting out of).
  • What is called a radical hysterectomy is actually three procedures in one – a hysterectomy to remove the womb and a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy to remove both ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Removing ovaries alone is called oophorectomy – removing one, a unilateral oophorectomy and both, a bilateral oophorectomy

Facing a hysterectomy is not a nice experience for any woman, but as hysterectomy is the second most common surgery a woman can face, (the most common being a caesarean section) then unfortunately it’s a surgery that many women will be all too familiar with.

As you can see from the fast facts, hysterectomy strictly speaking means removal of the womb. However hysterectomy is not a one size fits all and in common usage ‘hysterectomy’ can actually refer to three main types of surgical procedures:   Simple, Total and Radical.

Simple Hysterectomy 

Most hysterectomies are for non cancerous conditions such as abnormal bleeding, endometriosis, fibroids and prolapse. The hysterectomy commonly performed for these conditions is called a simple hysterectomy, removing just the uterus.

Total Hysterectomy

A total hysterectomy is where both the uterus and cervix are removed.

Radical Hysterectomy 

In 10% of cases, the hysterectomy can be for cancerous conditions. In such cases a radical hysterectomy is performed. This means that uterus, cervix and ovaries are removed, multiple lymph nodes are removed and a larger area of tissue around the organs can be removed. In cervical cancers the top part of the vagina also may be removed.

In cases of adhesions, polyps, cysts or endometriosis then a combination of surgeries may be performed depending on which parts of the reproductive system are most affected.

There are also various methods of having a hysterectomy:  Abdominal, Vaginal. Laparoscopic and Robotic

  • Abdominal – where an incision is made either across the tummy or from navel to pubic bone.
  • Vaginal – The surgery is done via the vagina and no incisions are made in the patients tummy but there will be internal incisions in the vagina.
  • Laparoscopic – keyhole surgery where the surgeon operates via instruments that inserted through small incisions in the patient’s tummy.
  • Robotic – also a form of keyhole surgery, where the surgeon operates from a console and controls the robotic equipment that holds the instruments. Like laparoscopic surgery the instruments enter the patient via incisions in the tummy.

Over the next few weeks we will focus on the various types of hysterectomy and alternatives to hysterectomy. We will also look at the many options available to best prepare for and recover from surgery.

And we love to hear your stories too so please feel free to comment on any post or to use one of the contact forms to tell us about your experience.


Our hysterectomy pages have a lot of good information from Professor of Gynaecological Nursing, Lynn Basford,

Fantastic website HysterSisters

And also Hysterectomy UK.