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Foreign Body, Vagina (cont.)

Vagina Foreign Body Diagnosis

Vaginal foreign bodies are seen more commonly in children than in adolescent or adult women. Children may not be able to supply the history of an object placed in the vagina; however, some children will say that they have "lost an object in their vagina." In addition to obtaining specific information about a possible vaginal foreign body, a health care professional will perform a general history and physical examination.

It is appropriate for the health care professional to ask about questions related to sexual activity and sexual or physical abuse.

Methods for diagnosing and retrieving foreign bodies depend on the age of the female patient and sometimes the duration of time the object has been in the vagina.

For young girls, any visit to a doctor's office can be frightening. If a foreign object is suspected in a young girl, the physician may gently examine the vulva and vaginal entrance by separating the labia and glimpsing the foreign object. This may allow removal in the office through such techniques as warm water lavage of the vagina, but other larger objects may require sedation or examination under anesthesia for removal.

An adolescent patient may easily have a foreign body removed from the vagina in the outpatient setting. This may also hold true for adults. Visualization of the foreign body using a speculum and removal with a forceps may be the most efficient treatment.

  • Unusual objects or those that may disrupt the vaginal wall may require sedation or anesthesia for removal, and to complete a thorough exam of the vagina and cervix.
  • A rectal exam in addition to a vaginal exam may be required to find the presence or location of a foreign body.
  • If an object has been present in the vagina for a long time, that object may cause erosion into the wall of the vagina. Acute placement of an unusual object in the vagina may cause perforation of the vaginal wall and secondary symptoms of an intra-abdominal infection. (For example, an unusual case report in the emergency medicine literature revealed placement of wood sticks in the vagina of an adult female 2 years before she began having pain in her hips. The sticks had been inserted in order to attempt to terminate a pregnancy. The sticks, however, remained in the vagina and eventually migrated through the vaginal wall to produce the hip pain.)
  • Although examination generally reveals the presence of a foreign body, some imaging techniques may also be helpful. These may include a CT (computerized tomography) scan, MRI scan, or an abdominal X-ray. Ultrasonography may also assist in the location of a foreign body in the vagina or pelvis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/20/2013
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