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Suffered A Vaginal Tear During Birth

? Copyright (c) 2010 Julie Glynn

Vaginal tears occur when the skin surrounding the vagina is stretched too far during childbirth and consequently rip. This can be caused by a number of factors, such as the delivery of a larger than average baby, or the mother having a slight frame. There are varying degrees of severity, with first or second degree tears being a fairly common occurrence, usually causing no lasting damage. Third and fourth degree tears are more serious, as the tear is longer and deeper, potentially extending to the rectum. This can lead to long-term adverse effects, from experiencing pain during sexual intercourse and when visiting the toilet, to faecal incontinence in the most serious cases.

Third and fourth degree tears may be prevented if the medical team recognise the baby is too big to be delivered without causing natural tearing. If this is the case, medical staff should perform an episiotomy - a deliberate cut through the perineum, which will enlarge the vagina and assist with the delivery of the child.

Treatments for Vaginal Tears. If a third or fourth degree tear does happen, then medical staff should follow the detailed guidelines from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which are as following:

. The tear must be repaired, and should be performed in an operating theatre, not the delivery suite;

. The operating theatre must be equipped with adequate lighting and good instrumentation;

. Appropriate anaesthesia must be used - either spinal/epidural or a general anaesthetic.

After the repair procedure, the following treatment can be taken to aid recovery and reduced discomfort:

. Antibiotics (to reduce the chance of infection); . Laxatives (to help reduce discomfort during bowel movements); . Physiotherapy (to help rebuild the muscles weakened by the birth); . Pain relief.

If these measures are taken then most women make a full recovery, although this may take weeks or even months. However, if problems persist, then more action may be needed. Additional treatment can include:

Further surgery. A patient may need further surgery to either repeat the surgery already undertaken, or to make additional repairs that were not noted the first time.

Sacral nerve stimulation. This is a relatively new technique whereby an implanted pulse generator is used to stimulate the origins of the pudendal nerves (nerves attached to the pelvic floor which can become stretched during childbirth.) The results can be very dramatic, with 70-80% of patients who suffer with faecal incontinence reporting success. If a patient were to require this form of treatment, an initial trial stimulation would be performed to assess whether or not the sacral nerve stimulation was likely to work and if successful a permanent implanted pulse generator could be undertaken.

Permanent stoma. In the most serious cases, patients who suffer faecal incontinence that is unresponsive to any form of treatment can end up with a permanent stoma. This is a surgically created opening that connects either the intestine or the urethra to the outside of your body, therefore performing the function of waste removal.

Claiming Compensation. If there was evidence during birth that you were going to suffer a vaginal tear but no action was taken to prevent it from happening you may well be able to make a claim for medical negligence. Each case will be decided on its own facts, but you will be able to obtain a free assessment from a medical negligence solicitor to advise you whether you can make a claim.

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Article Added on Thursday, November 11, 2010
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