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The Risks of Emergency Hysterectomies

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It's startling to think that there are rising rates of maternal mortality in the United States in 2010. But more studies and articles are reporting on this development, and encouraging women to rethink certain procedures that we may take for granted or assume are 100 percent safe.

For example, the LA Times reports on a study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology that there is an extremely high risk of having an emergency hysterectomy after childbirth. The study says that women who have C-sections are six times more likely to require a hysterectomy procedure compared to women who have vaginal births. This makes the cesarean delivery one of the most key risk factors for childbirth-related hysterectomy.

The second relevant study in the journal describes the stunning complications of having an emergency hysterectomy following childbirth. According to the authors of the paper, cesarean delivery is the most important risk factor for childbirth-related hysterectomy. Although this complication is uncommon, women who have C-sections are six times more likely to need a hysterectomy compared to women who have vaginal birth.

Though generally safe, when hysterectomies are performed right after the child is delivered, it's considered an emergency that may need to be done because of hemorrhaging after the C-section. Researches examined data from nearly 5,000 women who had a hysterectomy after childbirth compared to over half a million women who had a hysterectomy at some other point in their life.

The risk of death was 25 times higher for hysterectomies performed after childbirth compared to non-obstetric procedures. Complications reported included bladder and ureteral injuries, a second operation, postoperative hemorrhage, wound complications and blood clots. Age and overall health didn't appear to be a factor in these results either, suggesting that the procedure itself is risky because it is post-childbirth.

The authors of the study encourage risks of hysterectomies to be considered in the larger conversation about safe obstetrics and it seems like the C-section procedure needs to be examined further as well. Seemingly safe procedures are now showing that there are more complications and risks than many of us would like to believe, resulting in a slow increase of maternal deaths. Changes need to be made before this pattern becomes an epidemic.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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