Objective To highlight the occurrence of diversion colitis and its effects in colovaginoplasty.
Patients and methods The records of 18 children who had undergone colovaginoplasty were reviewed retrospectively. Nine patients had androgen-insensitivity syndrome and three each had congenital adrenal hyperplasia, vaginal agenesis and Mayer–Rokitansky syndrome. Through an abdominoperineal approach a segment of sigmoid colon was isolated on its vascular pedicle and brought to the perineum in the plane between the urethra and rectum, as a blind pouch or as an interposition between the proximal vagina and the perineum. The mean (range) follow-up was 5 (1.5–8) years.
Results There were no major complications during the early follow-up. Three patients developed severe vaginal discharge with bleeding 2–7 years after colovaginoplasty; examination showed erythema, oedema, ulceration and bleeding. Histology confirmed the classic features of diversion colitis in all three patients. One child responded to vaginal irrigation with a solution of short-chain fatty acids, and the other two were treated with steroid enemas and mesalazine after a poor response to short-chain fatty acids. One of these patients has required surgical reduction of an excessively long neovagina.
Conclusion Symptomatic diversion colitis can occur after colovaginoplasty. The severity of the symptoms raises concerns about the use of colovaginoplasty in children and alternative techniques of vaginal replacement should be considered in the first instance.