Elective surgery, emergency surgery, cosmetic surgery, necessary surgery … WHAT are the differences?!
All those surgery categorizations get confusing. And just who thinks a hysterectomy is elective? While many won’t see general hysterectomy in a non-life threatening situation as an emergency, the word elective becomes confused with unnecessary. And, I’m pretty sure we can conclude that about 99% of hysterectomies are not cosmetic … although, I do feel more beautiful after having mine! More like inner beauty — not outer. (Although, Australia, whereupon I last check, considers da Vinci hysterectomy as a cosmetic procedure!)
Elective surgery or elective procedure (from the Latin eligere, meaning to choose) is surgery that is scheduled in advance because it does not involve a medical emergency.
EMERGENCY HYSTERECTOMY is when the uterus has ruptured caused by some sort of trauma, being childbirth, a bad physical trauma like a motor vehicle collision or perhaps a surgical misadventure (yes, that’s a real term) when the scalpel or whatever instrument a surgeon may be using, has irrevocably damaged the uterus … and the end result is that the uterus must be removed to save the woman’s life. THIS is an emergency.
Surgical and/or medical misadventure:
Misadventure: an adverse event that occurs during medical or surgical care and is caused by that treatment. Example: intra-operative accidental laceration.
I know personally, when I was grabbing my middle, crying and hoping to die related to the pain of my horrible satanic SEVERE dysmenorrhea I felt like I needed an emergency hysterectomy … but feelings and necessity are two very different things.
ELECTIVE HYSTERECTOMY is the usual or most common category of hysterectomy performed. Elective hysterectomy includes those done for chronic pelvic pain or severe dysmenorrhea (my reason), severe endometriosis, uterine fibroids with or without bleeding, uterine cancer — and yes, I did say the C word* (more on that later), severe anemia from menorrhagia (chronic blood loss anemia from the uterus), uterine prolapse and/or failure to obtain relief or function from unsuccessful non-hysterectomy procedures, treatments or medications.
*Back to that C word ... yes, you would think having a hysterectomy for cancer (there are many different types of cancer) is an emergency. And yes, having a hysterectomy due to cancer will probably save, if not lengthen the life-span of any woman having this surgery. However, elective means choosing in advance. Emergency means imminent and usually life-saving or at least making the best attempt to save a life in a STAT (short turn around time) situation.
Cancer can be treated medically through chemotherapy, holistically through non-traditional medical modes and/or by radiation … usually treatment is some combination of all of these combined with surgery.
A hysterectomy for invasive uterine cancer is likely to be more urgent than one done for severe dysmenorrhea! But both are performed electively. In addition, the woman with cancer may experience no obvious symptoms, while the woman suffering chronic pelvic pain can detail pain and other negative symptoms affecting her quality of life. A woman can elect no treatment, no medication or elect everything and anything be done … but she is electing — she has the opportunity to make choices in advance of a split second. No one else is making that choice in a STAT situation to save her life.
And yes, I highly recommend if any woman has uterine cancer that she get a hysterectomy with of course, consultation with her physician(s). I also recommend getting the hysterectomy sooner than later in the vast majority of uterine cancer diagnoses, but again, I’m not a doctor. I’m only operating on what seems to be usual practice, common sense and observation of treatment as recommended when a uterine cancer diagnosis is made. Uterine cancer is not something that will go away on its own left completely untreated.
Here are some other ELECTIVE SURGERIES … in no particular order:
- cataract surgery
- cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal)
- carotid endarterectomy (opening up partial or complete blockage of carotid arteries)
- mastectomy for breast cancer
- carpal tunnel surgery
- total joint replacement of the knee (hip, shoulder, etc.)
- inguinal, ventral or umbilical hernia repair (provided there is no emergent bowel constriction)
- melanoma excision
- cerebral aneurysm clipping
- CABG (coronary artery bypass surgery)
- gangrenous toe amputation/s
Some of the above surgeries can definitely be emergencies under the right (or wrong) circumstances! While most of these surgeries appear as though they should be performed immediately, there are people who choose not to have these surgeries for whatever personal and/or recommended reasons by managing them medically with alternative ways.
ELECTIVE SURGERIES usually improve one’s quality of life and can often prevent a later emergent surgery (and other treatments) that can occur. I highly recommend having elective surgeries performed when it improves someone’s health and/or quality of life.
Another elective surgery example is the case of a melanoma diagnosis, a form of deadly cancer that often metastasizes (spreads) to other parts of the body. Having the melanoma removed is necessary, but not an emergency surgery; the melanoma does need to be removed in a timely matter, but not within mere seconds of diagnosis to save one’s life.
Some words on COSMETIC SURGERIES … cosmetic surgeries are a sub-category of elective surgeries. Usually cosmetic surgeries do not improve one’s health in general, at least physically speaking. However, psychologically, a cosmetic surgery can often do wonders for one’s emotional well-being.
There are mixed cosmetic surgeries that serve as functional elective surgeries as well; cleft lip and palate repair would be one example. After cleft lip and palate repair, the person can eat and breathe better, infection risk is decreased while their facial appearance is also improved.
If any one poo-poos YOUR hysterectomy as “only an elective surgery”, you can remind them that the vast majority of surgeries in the U.S. are elective surgeries and that you’ve chosen your surgery to improve your health and well-being … while kindly reminding them they are not in charge of your healthcare or medical decisions.
THE CONFUSION appears when someone hears that a surgery is elective. Many people have the words elective and cosmetic intertwined. They do not have the same meaning. Cosmetic surgery is a type of elective surgery. Simply because a surgery is elective DOES NOT mean it is not necessary.
Many, if not most, elective surgeries are necessary … for various reasons of course.