Labial trauma post birth: a delphi study of classification and suturing requirements

Elinor Jenkins, Chris Markham, Isobel Ryder, Christine Kettle

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Objectives - Primary objectives were to establish consensus of opinion for classification of post birth labial trauma and which types of post birth labial trauma require suturing. Secondary objectives were to establish optimal method, material and anaesthetic for suturing labial trauma.

Design - Delphi study consisting of 3 rounds.

Setting - UK and Europe.

Participants - 8 midwives, 4 obstetricians, 7 specialist perineal midwives, 1 consultant midwife and 2 midwifery lecturers all with relevant expertise and or recent, regular clinical experience of assessing and suturing labial trauma from 2 United Kingdom (UK) universities, 12 UK healthcare trusts and 1 European healthcare organisation.

Methods - A Delphi study consisting of an initial round of 6 professional medical illustrations of labial trauma with 6 open questions attached to each sent to panel members. 2 further rounds developed from the first round with between 2 and 10 opt-in statements for the 6 questions for each illustration to 20 and 22 panel members respectively. Consensus was set at 70% opt-in for each statement.

Findings - Consensus was reached that unilateral or bilateral vertical skin separation with minimal trauma to underlying tissues was described as a graze and does not require suturing. Consensus was reached that unilateral or bilateral deeper vertical trauma with involvement of the underlying tissue and horizontal trauma across the labia does require suturing with interrupted technique, injected local anaesthetic and using Vicryl Rapide 3.0 or equivalent.

Conclusion - A pilot study and definitive randomised controlled trial are required to establish in vivo whether labial tears including those which are transverse, are less painful and heal better with interrupted suturing compared to continuous or subcuticular sutures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-55
Early online date16 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


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