Anal Sphincter Injuries After Operative Vaginal Versus Spontaneous Delivery—Is There a Difference in Postpartum Symptoms?

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The aim of this study was to determine whether there is a difference in pelvic floor symptoms between women who had obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASIS) after an operative vaginal delivery versus those who had OASIS after a spontaneous delivery.


This was a secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study of women who sustained OASIS. Women were evaluated at 1 week postpartum and again at 12 weeks; at both of these visits, they completed a battery of validated questionnaires including a visual analog scale for pain, Patient Health Questionnaire 9 depression inventory, Fecal Incontinence Severity Index, Urogenital Distress Inventory 6, and Incontinence Impact Questionnaire 7.


Two hundred sixty-eight women with OASIS were included in this analysis (194 operative vaginal, 74 spontaneous). Ninety-one percent of those with operative vaginal delivery had a forceps-assisted delivery. After multivariate regression, operative OASIS was independently associated with greater Urogenital Distress Inventory 6 scores (P = 0.02), Fecal Incontinence Severity Index scores (P = 0.04), and visual analog scale pain scores (P = 0.03) and higher rates of urgency urinary incontinence (P = 0.04), stress urinary incontinence (P = 0.02), and anal incontinence (P = 0.04) at 1 week postpartum. At 3 months postpartum, symptoms were no different between the groups.


Women who sustain OASIS secondary to operative vaginal delivery report more bothersome urinary symptoms and higher rates of anal incontinence immediately postpartum as compared with women with OASIS secondary to spontaneous delivery. These differences may resolve by 3 months postpartum.

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