There are different types of third degree tear. It is important medical practitioners diagnose the correct type of tear, or the full extent of the injury may not be repaired.
Different types of 3rd degree tear
There are three different types of 3rd degree tear. These all involve the same structures, including the anal sphincters, the vaginal epithelium, perineal skin and perineal body. However, they vary slightly in terms of the extent of the tear, as described below:
- 3a: A 3a tear is the least severe type of 3rd degree tear. It sees a tear of the vaginal epithelium, perineal skin, perineal body and a partial tear of the external anal sphincter involving less than 50% thickness.
- 3b: A 3b tear sees a tear of the vaginal epithelium, perineal skin, perineal body and a tear of the external anal sphincter involving more than 50% thickness.
- 3c: A 3c tear is the most severe type of 3rd degree tear. It is a tear of the vaginal epithelium, perineal skin, perineal body, external anal sphincter and internal anal sphincter.
Important of diagnosing the correct 3rd degree tear
When diagnosing a 3rd degree tear, it is important that medical practitioners specify exactly what type of tear is present: a 3a, 3b or 3c tear. This will ensure that the subsequent repair involves all of the structures affected.
This difference between the types of 3rd degree tear may seem very small, and you may think it does not matter much if medical professionals mistake a 3c tear for a 3a tear. But this is not true. It will be devastating for the patient if the wrong diagnosis is made, as her internal anal sphincter would be left unrepaired. The internal anal sphincter cannot function properly with a tear in it, and problems such as faecal urgency and incontinence will quickly arise.
I was told I had a 3a tear but had a 3c tear
If you were originally diagnosed with a 3a tear, but later discovered you actually suffered a missed 3c tear, you need to talk to a solicitor.
If you have developed complications such as faecal urgency and incontinence, you could be entitled to sue the medical practitioners or organisations responsible. This would enable you to obtain compensation for the damages you have wrongfully incurred.
For more information on claiming compensation for a 3c tear, please get in touch with our legal team today.