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Contra-Indicated and Botched Vaginal Dilation Surgery

CATEGORIES: Surgical Errors Other Cases CASE LOCATION: Allegheny Co., PA. CLASSIFICATION: Substantial Recoveries

The Chodor Case

In this case, we represented Marianne Chodor in a case against her gynecologist after the gynecologist negligently performed a contra-indicated vaginal dilation surgery.

At the time of these events, Ms. Chodor was a menopausal 53-year old, single woman in good health. At her routine annual gynecologist office appointment with the Defendant gynecologist, Ms. Chodor made a first-ever new complaint of experiencing pain during intercourse (dyspareunia). The gynecologist diagnosed vaginal atrophy - inflammation of the vagina due to the thinning and shrinking of the tissues, as well as decreased lubrication due to a lack of the reproductive hormone estrogen - and recommended that Ms. Chodor have surgery to dilate her vagina (perineorraphy). Ms. Chodor followed her doctor’s recommendation and this out-patient surgery was scheduled for 3-weeks later.

During the vaginal dilation surgery, the gynecologist negligently caused an intraoperative cloacal defect (a tear or rupture of the tissues dividing the vaginal wall and the rectum).

Within three days of surgery, Ms. Chodor told the gynecologist that she had increased pain, odor, rectal irritation, and rectal bleeding with bowel movements. The gynecologist receommended a high fiber diet, stool softeners, and prescribed pain medication. When the problem persisted, he eventually referred Ms. Chodor to a general surgeon. The general surgeon found a tear between Ms. Chodor’s vagina and rectum and a tear between her anal sphincter and rectovaginal septum. The surgeon recommended surgery to temporarily divert her stool into an ileostomy until her rectum and vagina healed sufficiently to permit later surgical reconstruction of her vagina, rectum, and anal sphincter.

Ms. Choder went through with the surgery. The general surgeon performed a diverting ileostomy resulting in a four day hospital stay, a diverting ileostomy appliance, and an extended recovery period. After that, Ms. Chodor suffered post-operative abdominal pain and vomiting and was re-admitted to for another 7-days to resolve the post-operative bowel obstruction.

A few months later, Ms. Chodor was re-admitted to a different hospital for reconstruction surgery by an oncologic gynecologic surgeon. This surgeon divided the rectovaginal fistula where the vaginal vault had fused to the rectum, and then reconstructed both the rectum/rectal sphincter and the vagina. A few months after that, Ms. Choltko was again re-admitted for ileostomy reversal surgery.

Unfortunately, Ms. Chodor continues to experience dyspareunia, intermittent bleeding, and generalized pain. She has significant scarring. She’s also now at an increased risk for future intestinal, vaginal, and rectal complications, bowel obstructions, etc. As it turns out, the gynecologist never considered, recommended, or even discussed non-surgical therapy before performing the vaginal dilation surgery; nor did the gynecologist ever explain the alternatives to his recommended surgery or explain the risks of his recommended surgery.

It was not until after surgery that Ms. Chultko realized that a drastic measure like surgery was not indicated for her complaints. Quite the opposite, the standard of care for Ms. Chodor’s complaints was for the gynecologist to first attempt conservative therapies (e.g. creams, medications, lubricants) which are almost always successful.

We sued the gynecologist because he was negligent in performing the surgery and, in addition, for failing to obtain Ms. Chultko’s informed consent for the surgery.

Two weeks prior to the scheduled jury trial, the case settled for a substantial amount.