What happens before, during, and after a hysterectomy?

Before the procedure

A healthcare provider will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. He or she will also answer your questions.

In addition:

  • Blood and urine tests are taken
  • Hair in the abdominal and pelvic areas may be clipped
  • An intravenous (IV) line is placed in a vein in your arm to deliver medications and fluids

During the procedure

An anesthesiologist will give you either:

  • General anesthesia in which you will not be awake during the procedure; or
  • Regional anesthesia (also called epidural or spinal anesthesia) in which medications are placed near the nerves in your lower back to "block" pain while you stay awake .

The surgeon removes the uterus through an incision in your abdomen or vagina. The method used during surgery depends on why you need the surgery and the results of your pelvic exam.

During a vaginal hysterectomy, some doctors use a laparoscope (a procedure called laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy or LAVH) to help them view the uterus and perform the surgery.

A laparoscope with advanced instruments can also be used to perform hysterectomy completely through tiny incisions (total or supracervical laparoscopic hysterectomy). In more difficult cases, surgeons may employ assistance of robotic instruments placed through the laparoscope to complete the laparoscopic hysterectomy (robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy).

How long does the procedure last?

The procedure lasts one to three hours. The amount of time you spend in the hospital for recovery varies, depending on the type of surgery performed.

The day of discharge

A responsible adult must drive you home the day you are discharged from the hospital.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy