Three children who incurred genital injuries as a result of sexual assaults were followed up on a longitudinal basis to document the anatomical changes which ensued. The subjects, who were 4 months, 4 years 5 months, and 9 years of age, were followed up for periods ranging from 14 months to 3 years. A multimethod examination approach and a 35-mm camera mounted on a colposcope were used to examine and record their injuries. Signs of the acute damage disappeared rapidly, and the wounds healed without complications. Following the resolution of the acute injuries, the changes created by the trauma remained relatively stable throughout the prepubertal years. The most persistent findings were irregular hymenal edges and narrow rims at the point of the injury. Over time the jagged, angular margins smoothed off. Disruption of the hymen exposed underlying longitudinal intravaginal ridges whose hymenal attachments created mounds or projections. There was little apparent scar formation. Even the injuries to the posterior fourchettes healed with minimal scar tissue and left only the slightest evidence of the trauma. With the onset of puberty, the hymenal changes in the oldest subject were obscured by the hypertrophy of this membrane. An examination technique which used a Q-tip to separate the redundant tissues demonstrated that the signs of trauma had survived.
- Received April 5, 1991.
- Accepted May 3, 1991.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics