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Vaginal septum resection is the main surgical procedure used to treat a vaginal septum. Resection is the act of surgically removing something from the body. In this case, it refers to the removal of a septum, which is a partition made of tissue that forms as the fetus is forming inside the mother’s womb.
The septum can interfere with menstruation, sexual function and childbirth, which is why its removal is often necessary. The timing of surgery depends on the symptoms and characteristics of the septum. Your doctor will typically need to perform a pelvic examination, pelvic imaging with ultrasound and magnetic resonant imaging (MRI) before performing the surgery.
Vaginal septum is an uncommon condition that is congenital, meaning that it exists at birth.
Types of vaginal septa and their treatment
There are three different types of vaginal septa, and they require different forms of treatment.
Longitudinal vaginal septum
A longitudinal vaginal septum divides the vagina into two canals. To correct this, doctors need to perform a vaginal septum resection, surgically removing the septal tissue to create a single vaginal canal.
Transverse vaginal septum
It is critical that your doctor thoroughly understands the characteristics of a transverse vaginal septum prior to considering vaginal septum resection. Patients with a menstrual obstruction due to a complete transverse vaginal septum will require surgery. Having a menstrual obstruction means that the septum is blocking the flow of menses that accompanies a woman’s monthly period. However, it is important to consider the patient’s age and maturity before deciding on the procedure.
Prior to scheduling surgery to remove the septum, your doctor may suggest draining the obstructed menses or suppressing hormones using medication to minimize menses during periods. The goal of these initial treatments is to delay performing a vaginal septum resection for young patients who are not yet ready for surgery and post-operative care.
Obstructed hemi vagina
In the case of an obstructed hemi vagina, your doctor will perform a vaginal septum resection in order to create a single vaginal canal and relieve menstrual obstruction.
Our radiology and anesthesiology experts help us prepare for the procedure. Our radiologists consult with our surgical specialists to decide the best approach for the surgery, using detailed images to help surgeons visualize the unique characteristics of each procedure. Our anesthesiologists are specially trained to work with children and teenagers, ensuring they administer precise dosages based on age and body type.
Our surgical specialists collaborate to consider every possible implication of the surgery during and after the procedure. After the surgery, our psychologist provides emotional support for patients to ensure their physical and mental health.
At Children’s Colorado, we have the experience to manage complex conditions like vaginal septa and the multidisciplinary team to optimize the surgical outcome and psychosocial well-being of children and teens.
What to expect during vaginal septum resection
Vaginal septum resection is performed in an operating room while the patient is under general anesthesia. Depending on the complexity of the case, the procedure can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.
What to expect after vaginal septum resection
Vaginal septum resection is generally an outpatient procedure, which means patients go home after they have recovered from anesthesia. After the procedure, patients may complain of genital soreness, which can usually be managed with over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen. They may also experience light vaginal bleeding. Nothing should be inserted into the vagina until cleared by your physician. Most girls can return to school or work within 2 to 5 days.
If there is a risk for vaginal scarring, your doctor may leave in a vaginal stent or advise post-operative vaginal dilation. Vaginal dilation is a method of therapy used to stretch the tissues of the vagina to restore vaginal capacity and elasticity, which helps to alleviate sexual discomfort.
Risk of scarring based on vaginal septum type
After vaginal septum resection, girls and young women may experience a variety of scarring depending on the type of surgery:
Longitudinal vaginal septum: There is minimal risk of vaginal scarring with this type of septum resection, therefore post-operative vaginal dilation is not required.
Transverse vaginal septum: Given the high risk for vaginal scarring with this type of septum resection, post-operative dilation is usually recommended to maintain vaginal patency, or the ability of the vagina to be expanded.
Obstructed hemi vagina: In rare cases, when the obstructing septum is located in a high position in the vagina, there is risk of scarring.