A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a woman's uterus. In certain cases, a woman may also have her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed during a hysterectomy. A vaginal hysterectomy and an abdominal hysterectomy are the two major ways in which this procedure is performed. Women should discuss potential hysterectomy complications after surgery with a medical professional before undergoing this procedure.
Bowel or intestinal blockage can occur as a hysterectomy complication after surgery, warn Cleveland Clinic health professionals. Affected women can experience temporary constipation, which can make it difficult to pass a stool. Constipation can also lead to abdominal cramping or bloating in certain women. This common hysterectomy complication can be mitigated through the use of stool softeners or laxatives. As the body heals after surgery, bowel complications typically resolve without further medical intervention.
Injury to the Urinary Tract
During a hysterectomy, a surgeon may accidentally damage a woman's urinary tract. Such injuries are typically detected during surgery and are promptly repaired. After surgery, certain women can experience urinary retention, which makes it difficult to pass urine from the bladder normally. Affected women may have a small tube called a catheter inserted into their bladder to help drain excess fluid waste products from the body. Urine retention complications after surgery are temporary and generally resolve within 24 to 48 hours after surgery, explain medical experts with UpToDate.
Infection can arise as a hysterectomy complication after surgery in certain women. Symptoms of infection can include a fever, increased pain or frequent, urgent urination. Fever symptoms typically exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and can contribute to the appearance of additional symptoms, including headache, flushing, sweating or chills. Women who develop symptoms of infection after a hysterectomy should seek immediate medical attention. Additional antibiotic medication may be necessary to resolve infection symptoms.
Bleeding and Blood Clots
Certain women can develop bleeding or blood clot complications after a hysterectomy. Excessive vaginal bleeding or hemorrhage may require additional surgery to resolve this complication. Women who undergo a hysterectomy are at an increased risk of developing blood clots within the leg or lung up to six weeks after surgery, warns UpToDate. The use of hormonal birth control during the month prior to surgery can further increase a woman's risk of developing blood clots after a hysterectomy. Blood clots that block the flow of blood to the lungs or heart can cause life-threatening medical complications. To limit the risk of blood clots, women should discuss these complications with a medical provider before having surgery.
Premenopausal women may be more likely to experience early menopause after having a hysterectomy. This complication may occur due to poor blood flow to the ovaries following surgery, explains UpToDate. Early menopause can cause hot flashes, irregular or absent menstrual cycles and infertility in affected women.
- Cleveland Clinic: What You Need to Know About Hysterectomy - What are the Complications of Hysterectomy?
- UpToDate: Vaginal Hysterectomy
- UpToDate: Abdominal Hysterectomy Complications
- WomensHealth.gov: Hysterectomy
- "Journal of Postgraduate Medicine;" Complications of Vaginal Hysterectomy; Menna S. Bhattacharya, et. al.; 1978