A Brief “Hystery” of the Hysterectomy

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Long ago the Ancient Egyptians and the Greeks believed that female hysteria was caused by the uterus traveling to different places in the body. Female hysteria was a catch all diagnosis for women who showed signs of fainting, outbursts, nervousness, irritability, lack of interest in food or sex, etc. The list for the symptoms was expansive. The cure of extreme cases of hysteria? A hysterectomy or admittance to the insane asylum. The history on the “science” of the female body is fascinating, and we are very lucky in this day and age to have such an expansive knowledge of women and the way their bodies work.

Hysterectomies have been performed for thousands of years, but the major breakthroughs and successes of the surgery happened about 100 years ago. Hysterectomies were performed in the middle ages, but were often the wrong diagnosis, and the patients rarely survived. Early procedures were performed without anaesthesia with a mortality of about 70%, mainly due to infection. Can you imagine going under the knife with a 70% chance of death?! Luckily we live in an age where much more is known about science and surgery in general. Doctors are well trained and perform in a sterile environment. The survival rate today is over 99%.

The word hysterectomy stems from the greek word “hystera” meaning womb, and ectomy meaning surgical removal, or cutting out of. The first laparoscopic hysterectomy was performed by Harry Reich in Pennsylvania in 1988, and robotic assisted hysterectomies were approved in 2005 by the US FDA.

Nevada Surgery and Cancer Center’s own Dr. Lynn Kowalski recently celebrated the achievement of performing her 1,000 robotically assisted surgery with the help of the Da Vinci Robotic Surgery System. Kowalski has been in the field since the 1980’s when she took an interest in gynecological care. She cares for her patients with compassion and expertise. To answer your questions on hysterectomies, contact us on our website or call 702-733-1689.

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