ABDOMINAL HYSTERECTOMY COMPLICATIONS

A number of complications can occur as a result of hysterectomy. Fortunately, most can be easily managed and do not cause long-term problems.

Haemorrhage — Excessive bleeding (haemorrhage) occurs in a small number of cases and may require a return to the operating room to identify and stop the bleeding.

Infection — Low-grade fever is common after hysterectomy, is not always caused by infection, and usually resolves without treatment. However, a high or persistent fever may signal an infection.

Constipation — Constipation occurs in most women following hysterectomy and can usually be controlled with a regimen of stool softeners, dietary fibre, and laxatives.

Urinary retention — Urinary retention, or the inability to pass urine, can occur after abdominal hysterectomy. It is more common in women who have vaginal hysterectomy. Urine can be drained using a catheter until retention resolves, usually within 24 to 48 hours.

Blood clots — Pelvic surgery increases the risk of developing blood clots in the large veins of the leg or lung. The risk is increased for approximately six weeks after surgery.

Damage to adjacent organs — The urinary bladder, ureters (small tubes leading from the kidneys to the bladder), and large and small intestines are located in the lower abdomen and pelvis and can be injured during hysterectomy. Injury occurs in less than one percent of all women undergoing hysterectomy and can usually be detected and corrected at the time of surgery. If detected after surgery, another operation may be needed.

Early menopause — Women who have had a hysterectomy, but kept their ovaries, may go through menopause (when ovaries stop making hormones) earlier than average (age 51). This may be due to an interruption in blood flow to the ovaries as a result of removing the uterus.

RECOVERY AFTER ABDOMINAL HYSTERECTOMY

Fluids and food are generally offered soon after surgery. You may get fluids intravenously (by IV) during the first day, particularly if you have nausea or vomiting. You will also get pain medicine as needed, either intravenously, by intramuscular (IM) injection, or as a pill. You will likely be encouraged to resume your normal daily activities as soon as possible. Being active is particularly important since it helps to prevent complications, such as blood clots, pneumonia, and gas pains.