Common Questions About Subtotal Hysterectomy

Subtotal hysterectomy (also known as a partial or supracervical hysterectomy) is a surgical procedure that removes the upper part of the uterus but leaves the cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries intact. If you’ve been told that you need a subtotal hysterectomy, turn to the gynecological surgeons at North Carolina Specialty Hospital (NCSH). As one of the best hospitals and women’s health surgical teams in the region, you’ll receive the most advanced treatment and patient-centered care available today.

What You Need to Know About a Subtotal Hysterectomy

Your gynecologist may recommend a subtotal hysterectomy to treat benign uterine conditions such as:

  • Heavy or painful periods or vaginal bleeding that is not controlled by other treatments
  • Noncancerous growths called uterine fibroids
  • Adenomyosis, a painful condition where the uterus lining grows into its muscle
  • Severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

However, a subtotal hysterectomy won’t be recommended when gynaecological conditions or complications are severe, such as:

  • Cancer in the uterus, ovaries, or cervix
  • Endometriosis, a painful condition where the lining of the womb grows outside of it
  • Hyperplasia, a condition where the lining of the uterus is too thick
  • Uterine prolapse, a condition where the uterus slips into the vagina
  • Delivery complications

In these situations, your doctor will recommend another type of hysterectomy.

What is the Difference Between a Subtotal Hysterectomy and Other Types of Hysterectomies?

Subtotal hysterectomies only remove part of the reproductive system, while other hysterectomies remove more or all of it. These include:

Total Hysterectomy: This surgical technique removes the uterus and cervix.

Hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. These terms refer to two procedures. In salpingo-oophorectomy vs hysterectomy, salpingo-oophorectomy is the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries, while a hysterectomy removes the uterus and cervix. A salpingectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes) is usually performed in the case of endometriosis.

Radical Hysterectomy. This procedure removes the uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, part of the vagina, and some lymph nodes. This procedure is usually done when cancer is present, such as with cervical, uterine, or ovarian cancer.

With any hysterectomy, you will not be able to become pregnant, and you will no longer have periods afterward. In addition, with surgeries that remove ovaries, you may also experience menopausal symptoms.

What Are the Benefits of a Subtotal Hysterectomy?

  • Because they are only removing the upper part of the uterus, subtotal hysterectomies, with their laparoscopic approach, are a less invasive surgery than an abdominal hysterectomy.
  • Your hospital stay may last one or two days if performed robotically or laparoscopically (through small incisions in the abdomen), compared to two to three days for total and radical hysterectomies that require an abdominal incision.
  • You’ll get back to enjoying life free of bleeding and pain more quickly than you would with other procedures.

Are There Any Alternative Treatments to a Subtotal Hysterectomy?

It depends on what’s causing your problems:

  • If you are suffering from uterine prolapse, you may be able to improve symptoms with pelvic floor exercises.
  • Before pursuing surgery, your doctor may recommend trying medications if you are suffering from heavy periods.
  • If you are suffering from fibroids, your doctor may prescribe medication to try to control the symptoms. Also, they may suggest surgery to remove the fibroids only (leaving everything else intact) or to use a uterine artery embolization to reduce the blood flow to the fibroids to shrink and kill them.

What is the Surgery Like?

Subtotal hysterectomies are less invasive and usually performed by laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgery. Your hysterectomy doctor will make small incisions in your abdomen to insert a small tube with a camera to watch, while small tools are inserted through other incisions to remove the uterus in small pieces either through the incisions or in the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy).

Surgery will last from one to three hours and is performed under general anesthesia. Depending on your situation, you might be able to go home later in the day. However, most patients spend the night. Note that lengths of a hospital stay are longer if you have a total or radical hysterectomy or hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

How Soon Will I Recover From a Subtotal Hysterectomy?

You will start walking as soon as you can after waking up from surgery. This will help keep you from developing blood clots. You will also be shown exercises your medical team will want you to do at home. You will also be prescribed medication for pain relief and infection.

Although you may be able to drive after a few days, you’ll generally rest for two weeks. You should not lift anything over 10 pounds for four to six weeks. You may be able to return to work after four to six weeks, depending on the type of work you do, and you should be feeling back to normal within two to three months.

Is There Anything I Need to Look Out For?

Yes. You’ll want to notify your doctor if you experience any postoperative complications such as:

  • Fever
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Urination or bowel function issues
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Swelling, redness, or discharge around the incision(s)

Are There Insurance Requirements for Hysterectomies?

Hysterectomies are generally covered by insurance when they are deemed medically necessary. Make sure to talk to your insurance company to understand what your coverage provides for your situation.

Where Can I Find a Hysterectomy Doctor Near Me?

Leading women’s health care is closer than you think. We’re neighbors, right here in Raleigh! So you don’t have far to go to get the care you need if you or a loved one are suffering from heavy bleeding or experiencing any other symptoms. Make an appointment with one of our NCHS gynecological surgeons today. Our caring women’s health specialists will get to the heart of the problem and get you back to good health soon.



Stay Current

Educational Articles & More

View News & Press