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What Is a Hysterotomy?

By T. Carrier
Updated Feb 12, 2024
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A hysterotomy, or uterotomy, is any procedure that involves making a cut into a female’s uterus. This uterine incision may be essential in a number of medical procedures, including Caesarian section, fetal surgery, or a hysterotomy abortion. Complications may arise in some procedures, particularly the risk of premature labor.

The uterus is a main female reproductive organ. It may be accessed through the stomach muscles or through the vagina. Surgical cuts are typically made on the lower portion of the uterus. A singular cut may suffice, with the size of the cut depending on the specific procedure.

On occasion, complications with natural labor or the need to induce labor calls for a Caesarian section. This process involves surgically removing a fetus for the birthing process. As such, a hysterotomy is needed to access the contents of the uterus. To gain this access, the physician must first make a significant cut into the wall of the abdomen: a separate procedure known as a laparotomy.

Medical emergencies or birth defects associated with a fetus — particularly those associated with the environment of the uterus itself — may be addressed with fetal surgery. When the fetus has not yet reached a period of time for safe birth, any corrective medical procedures must be performed on the fetus in utero. For these highly delicate procedures, a hysterotomy is typically required. Less invasive techniques that require smaller incisions are more prevalent, but some procedures require a complete uterus opening.

Abortions may be performed via a hysterotomy as well. In such cases, a small cut is made through the abdomen into the uterus. Physicians then remove the fetus from the uterus. Due to associated risks, this type of abortion is usually a last resort, and it is typically only performed following the first trimester.

A hysterotomy should not be confused with a hysterectomy, as the latter process actually removes the uterus from the body. This procedure usually is necessary because of some defect with the uterus itself. Physicians performing a hysterotomy, on the other hand, are simply operating on the uterus. The hysteromy may, however, be a component of the hysterectomy.

Although hysterotomies are somewhat commonplace, making incisions in this area can sometimes create problems. For example, the activity may trigger labor in a pregnant woman. In addition, excessive vaginal bleeding can result, especially if the uterus is accessed through the vagina. Other typical surgical complications are also evaluated before a hysterotomy, such as the risk of an adverse reaction to anesthesia.

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Discussion Comments

By anon993406 — On Nov 12, 2015

Abortion is permanent. Please research to see what you're going to do before you do it.

By ZipLine — On Jan 31, 2013

Is hysterotomy a common procedure for women who have cervical cancer?

My understanding was that it's mostly done during c-sections.

By donasmrs — On Jan 31, 2013

@SarahGen-- After my hysterotomy, it took me about six weeks to get back on my feet and back to work.

I didn't have any major side effects, just pain around the incision area. But the pain would get worse if I moved my legs too much. So I couldn't walk too much, exercise or drive.

I'm sure your step daughter will be given pain relievers during this time. Just help her with cooking and laundry so that she can rest. You may need to drive her around or pick up groceries as well.

She just needs to take it slowly. When the pain around the incision ceases, she can go back to her regular activity.

If there is any bleeding or major pain though, there might be a complication and she would need to see the doctor in that case.

By SarahGen — On Jan 30, 2013

My step daughter is due to have a hysterotomy abortion next week. She will be home alone and I want to take care of her until she recovers.

How long does recovery usually take? What do we need to pay attention to? I think her movements will be limited and I will definitely help with house chores but what else I can do to help her through this?

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