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Cloaca-like deformity with faecal incontinence after severe obstetric injury – technique and functional outcome of ano-vaginal and perineal reconstruction with X-flaps and sphincteroplasty

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Abstract Objective 

Surgical technique and outcomes report. Summary background data 

Three to eight per cent of vaginal deliveries are complicated by third- or fourth- degree perineal lacerations, resulting in a cloaca-like deformity in up to 0.3%. These three-dimensional defects result in often debilitating incontinence and symptoms similar to a rectovaginal fistula because of the lack of the distal rectovaginal septum. Method 

Between 2001 and 2006, 12 women (median age 37, range 20–57) with faecal incontinence and a postobstetric-injury-associated cloaca-like deformity underwent an ano-vaginal and perineal reconstruction with X-flaps and sphincteroplasty without primary faecal diversion. Results 

The patients presented 13.0 ± 2.9 years (range 0.5–29 years) after the obstetric injury. The median Cleveland Clinic Florida faecal incontinence score was 16 (range 12–19). In addition, one patient complained of vaginal discharge, another of dyspareunia. All patients had an open rectovaginal communication with a large anterior sphincter defects (mean 160.2 ± 22.8 degrees, range 113–180). Resting/squeeze pressures were 28.0 ± 4.4/63.2 ± 8.1 mmHg, respectively. Pudendal neuropathy was present in five patients. The median length of hospital stay after surgery was 5.3 ± 0.7 days. Three patients experienced a postoperative rectovaginal fistula, two of which closed spontaneously, whereas the third required faecal diversion and a bulbocavernosus flap. After surgical follow-up of 9.8.3 ± 2.8 months and long-term follow-up of 38.9.0 ± 6.9 months, all the patients were satisfied with regards to overall function, continence and cosmetic result. Conclusion 

Cloaca-like deformity resulting from severe obstetric injury is often not given appropriate attention. Reconstruction of the original anatomy is complex but achieves good results and does not require a prophylactic faecal diversion.
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Keywords: Severe obstetric injury; cloaca; fecal incontinence; flap reconstruction; outcome; sphincteroplasty; surgical technique

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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