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Rest is the key for post-op recovery.

Rest and recuperation will be key to the Duchess of Cornwall's recovery after she undergoes a major operation to remove her womb next month.

The duchess, who will turn 60 in July, is to have a hysterectomy which is a procedure carried out on thousands of women every year.

This operation is not just reserved for women who have gone through the menopause, but is often performed for various medical reasons, such as heavy periods, fibroids, cancer and endometriosis.

Other conditions can include painful pelvic inflammatory disease, caused by infection, or prolapse, where the uterus or part of vaginal wall drops down as a result of weak tissue.

A total or partial hysterectomy can be performed, but after women have experienced menopause the surgeon may suggest removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes as well, to prevent ovarian cysts developing.

Only the upper part of the womb is taken out in a partial hysterectomy, leaving the cervix in place, but this is rarely performed in the UK.

Patrick O'Brien, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at University College Hospital, London, said the duchess could have one of several conditions.

"A common reason why a 60-year-old woman would have a hysterectomy would be prolapse, which can occur in women who have had children," he said.

"Another reason might be fibroids or irregular bleeding in a woman taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

"The exact method of surgery will depend on various factors, including whether she's had surgery before."

The womb is removed through the vagina, through keyhole surgery or through an abdominal incision, in an operation performed under general anaesthetic which lasts about an hour. Three per cent of women may suffer problems during the operation.

After the operation patients may feel very sore and uncomfortable, they will be given fluids and painkillers through a drip, while a catheter is inserted in the bladder to drain urine.

More than 40,000 hysterectomy operations are carried out in the UK each year

One in five women will undergo this procedure before they turn 60

Typically surgery can take 40 to 50 minutes, but a keyhole procedure will take about 80 minutes

About 1 in 3,000 women die as a result of having a hysterectomy
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 13, 2007
Words:370
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