Hysterectomy (cont.)

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What tests or treatments are performed prior to a hysterectomy?

A woman must have a pelvic examination, Pap smear, and a diagnosis prior to proceeding with a hysterectomy. Prior to having a hysterectomy for pelvic pain, women usually undergo more limited (less extensive) exploratory surgery procedures (such as laparoscopy) to rule out other causes of pain. Prior to having a hysterectomy for abnormal uterine bleeding, women require some type of sampling of the lining of the uterus (biopsy of the endometrium) to rule out cancer or pre-cancer of the uterus. This procedure is called endometrial sampling. Also, pelvic ultrasounds and/or pelvic computerized tomography (CT) tests can be done to make a firm diagnosis. In a woman with pelvic pain or bleeding, a trial of medication treatment is often given before a hysterectomy is considered.

Therefore, a premenopausal (still having regular menstrual periods) woman whose uterine fibroids are causing bleeding but no pain is generally first offered medical therapy with hormones. Non-hormonal treatments are also available, such as tranexamic acid and more moderate surgical procedures, such as ablations (removal of the lining of the uterus). If she still has significant bleeding that causes major impairment to her daily life, or the bleeding continues to cause anemia (low red blood cell count due to blood loss), and she has no abnormality on endometrial sampling, she may be considered for a hysterectomy.

A postmenopausal woman (whose menstrual periods have ceased permanently) who has no abnormalities in the samples of her uterus (endometrial sampling) and still has persistent abnormal bleeding after trying hormone therapy, may be considered for a hysterectomy. Several dose adjustments or different types of hormones may be required to decide on the optimal medical treatment for an individual woman.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/21/2014

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