Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. It is performed when a woman has tumors in the lining of the uterus.
For women who have tumors with a low risk of spreading, the surgeon may perform a partial hysterectomy, which involves removing the cervix, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
For larger tumors that have spread to the cervix, the doctor may perform a more extensive procedure, known as a radical hysterectomy. During this surgery, the doctor removes the uterus, the cervix, the tissue surrounding the cervix, and the upper portion of the vagina. The surgeon usually removes the lymph nodes near the uterus as well.
Surgeons often perform a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy during a hysterectomy for the treatment of endometrial cancer. This procedure involves removing and examining the ovaries and fallopian tubes, which carry eggs to the uterus. This helps to ensure the cancer has not spread to these organs.
Removing the ovaries and the eggs they contain causes immediate menopause. Doctors at NYU Langone can help you manage the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and a decline in libido, with medications or integrative therapies.
Women who have a hysterectomy with or without bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy cannot become pregnant. For women who want to have children, our doctors may recommend less extensive surgery combined with medication or other treatments.
In addition, our doctors can refer you to reproductive medicine specialists at NYU Langone’s Fertility Center. They can offer strategies to help women of childbearing age preserve their fertility during cancer treatment.
During a hysterectomy, the surgeon may also perform a lymphadenectomy procedure. In this procedure, the surgeon removes pelvic lymph nodes—small immune system glands that trap bacteria and viruses—that contain cancer cells.
For women with small tumors that have not progressed too far into the endometrium, the surgeon may first perform a procedure called sentinel lymph node mapping to find out if the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
The doctor injects a small amount of radioactive material or dye, called a tracer, into the cervix. The tracer travels through the lymphatic system toward the lymph node or nodes where cancer is most likely to spread. These are called the sentinel lymph nodes.
A CT scan is then performed so that the doctor can visualize the sentinel nodes. He or she removes these to see if they contain cancer. If they don’t, there is no need to remove additional lymph nodes.
If you have a large tumor that has invaded the uterine muscle more deeply, our doctors may remove a larger number of lymph nodes to prevent the cancer from spreading.