Vaginal hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus through the vagina. During a vaginal hysterectomy, the surgeon detaches the uterus from the ovaries, fallopian tubes and upper vagina, as well as from the blood vessels and connective tissue that support it. The uterus is then removed through the vagina.

Vaginal hysterectomy involves a shorter time in the hospital, lower cost and faster recovery than an abdominal hysterectomy, which requires an incision in your lower abdomen. However, if your uterus is enlarged, vaginal hysterectomy may not be possible.

Hysterectomy often includes removal of the cervix as well as the uterus. When the surgeon also removes one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes, it's called a total hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy (sal-ping-go-o-of-uh-REK-tuh-me). Located in your pelvis, all these organs are part of your reproductive system.

Dec. 11, 2012