Pediatric Foreign Body (Vagina)

Pediatric Foreign Body (Vagina)

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Summary

A foreign body left in the vagina can lead to increased discharge, tissue injury, infection, and bleeding. The most common foreign bodies in children include bits of toilet paper or other objects, such as toys, that become trapped in the vagina.

Expanded Overview

In young children, objects found have often been inserted by the child herself out of curiosity – in the same way foreign objects may be found in the ear or nose. Although uncommon, the presence of a foreign body may occasionally indicate sexual abuse.

Symptoms

If your daughter is experiencing the following symptoms, her doctor may want to check for the presence of a foreign body:

  • Bleeding, especially in a non-menstruating child or adolescent
  • Foul-smelling and/or copious vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Urinary discomfort
  • Burning sensation

Tests and Diagnosis

  • Your daughter’s doctor will first complete a physical examination and ask about her symptoms.
  • The doctor may also take a vaginal swab and urine culture to test for bacterial infection.
  • The doctor may flush the vagina with saline fluid while your daughter is in the office, to help expel bits of toilet paper, if this is suspected.
  • In some cases, her doctor may conduct an examination, under anesthesia and in an operating room, to diagnose and remove the foreign body.

Treatment

If your daughter’s doctor discovers a foreign body, it must be removed to prevent further irritation and infection.

  • The doctor may remove this simply during an office exam, if accessible, or by using a narrow, lighted endoscope while your child is asleep in the operating room. Your daughter’s doctor may prescribe antibiotics if an infection is suspected, and the tissue should heal on its own.

Menstruating adolescents and young women should be reminded to change tampons regularly.

FAQ's

How did my daughter’s foreign body issue occur?

Menstruating adolescents and teenagers may forget to take out a tampon, or toilet paper may become trapped; sexually active young women may forget to remove a contraceptive device; and young children my insert objects out of curiosity. In rare cases, it may be a sign of sexual abuse.

How will my daughter be treated?

Her doctor can remove the object, either in the office or in the operating room, and treat any infection with antibiotics.

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