Absence of the vagina in the pediatric population most commonly results from congenital abnormalities, such as the Mayer-Rokitansky syndrome but it may also be seen after treatment for pelvic tumors, such as rhabdomyosarcoma, and in patients who have had previous gender reassignment. We review our experience using bowel for vaginal replacement in a group of children and young adults to assess outcome and satisfaction.Materials and Methods
From 1980 to 1996 we evaluated 31 patients 1 to 20 years old who required vaginal replacement. Presenting diagnoses included mullerian failure (the Mayer-Rokitansky syndrome) in 20 patients, androgen insensitivity syndrome in 5, rhabdomyosarcoma in 3, penile agenesis in 1, cloacal exstrophy in 1 and 1 previously separated conjoint twin. A questionnaire was given to 26 of the 31 patients to assess postoperative sexual function and satisfaction.Results
A total of 33 bowel segments in 31 patients were used for vaginal reconstruction, including sigmoid colon in 20, ileum in 8 and cecum in 5. Of the 31 patients 20 were sexually active, 8 were married and 3 had been previously married and divorced. Only 1 patient described chronic dyspareunia. Three patients were on chronic home dilation, while 4 required sanitary pads for vaginal secretions. There were 8 complications in the 31 patients, including stenosis of the bowel segment in 6. Three patients required a second procedure after total stenosis of the small bowel vagina (2) and prolapse of the neovagina (1), which required retroperitoneal fixation.Conclusions
Experience with this group of patients leads us to believe that isolated bowel segments provide excellent tissue for vaginal replacement. Furthermore, we believe that colon segments, particularly sigmoid, are preferable to small bowel for creation of the neovagina. In many instances the small bowel mesentery may be too short to provide an adequate, tension-free anastomosis in the perineum, particularly in obese patients. Our results would also suggest that sexual activity is more compatible with isolated bowel segments for vaginal replacement than with any of the more traditional methods, such as passive dilations and split thickness skin graft vaginoplasty.