To discover that you have a fistula after giving birth can be pretty shocking. It can also lead to some appalling and life-changing symptoms. Why does this happen?
What is a fistula?
A fistula is an abnormal hole or passage between two areas of the body which are not normally connected.
After childbirth, for example, a woman may develop a fistula between her bowel and her vagina.
The effect of a fistula means that material can travel between two locations within the body in a way which would not normally happen. Understandably, this can frequently be detrimental to a person’s health.
A recto-vaginal fistula
A recto-vaginal fistula means that a hole develops between the vagina and the bowel. This may allow wind and faeces to escape via the vagina rather than via the anus. As this is not the usual process, the woman cannot control this occurrence which can prove to be extremely embarrassing at the very least.
What causes a recto-vaginal fistula?
If a woman develops a fistula between her vagina and her bowel following childbirth it may mean that she has experienced a severe perineal injury during the birth which has gone undiagnosed by her medical practitioners.
It could also mean that her tear was diagnosed and repaired but that the repair has broken down, allowing a hole to develop.
A severe perineal injury during childbirth can cause a fistula to develop because the woman’s anus will have been damaged during the birth.
Many women suffer tears to the perineum during childbirth and occasionally that injury extends beyond the perineum to the anus. This can cause significant damage. The external sphincter muscle may be damaged, as may the internal sphincter muscle and the lining of the anal canal.
Repairing a severe perineal tear
If the injury is recognised and repaired at the time of the birth, as it should be, it is very likely that the woman will make a good recovery. If the tear is not accurately diagnosed, however, or the quality of the repair is questionable, then the woman may suffer a lifetime of bowel incontinence, even if she does not develop a fistula.
If you are suffering with the appalling symptoms of an undiagnosed or poorly-repaired third or fourth degree tear following the birth of your child, you may wish to consider making a claim for compensation. The long-term effects of an undiagnosed tear can make it very difficult to work and financial compensation can help to address this problem.
Contact us to discuss your situation. We have considerable experience of pursuing perineal tear compensation claims and would be happy to hear from you.
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If you, or your family member, has suffered a birth injury tear, please call us now for free, no obligation advice on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile click to call 01275 334030) or complete our Free Online Enquiry.