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Dis Colon Rectum. 2004 Apr;47(4):502-8; discussion 508-9. Epub 2004 Mar 4.

Effect of hysterectomy on bowel function.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska Institutet Danderyd Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.



Hysterectomy is the most common major gynecologic procedure. Unwanted postoperative effects on bowel function are a topic of recent debate. The aim of the present study was to prospectively evaluate the influence of hysterectomy on bowel function.


One hundred and twenty consecutive patients undergoing hysterectomy for benign conditions answered a questionnaire covering bowel habits and symptoms preoperatively and at 6 and 12 months postoperatively. Forty-four patients underwent vaginal hysterectomy and 76 underwent abdominal hysterectomy. Concomitant bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy was performed in 17 patients.


After abdominal hysterectomy, patients reported increased symptoms of gas incontinence, urge to defecate, and inability to distinguish between gas and feces ( P < 0.05). There was a tendency of increased fecal incontinence. Subgroup analysis indicated that concomitant bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy resulted in an increased risk of fecal incontinence. No significant changes were detected in symptoms associated with constipation. Mean defecation frequency increased and the frequency of pelvic heaviness symptoms was reduced. After vaginal hysterectomy, there was no increased frequency of incontinence or constipation symptoms. The frequency of pelvic heaviness symptoms was reduced.


Patients undergoing abdominal hysterectomy may run an increased risk for developing mild to moderate anal incontinence postoperatively and this risk is increased by simultaneous bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy. An increased risk of anal incontience symptoms could not be identified in patients undergoing vaginal hysterectomy. Our study does not support the assumption that hysterectomy is associated with de novo or deteriorating constipation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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