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Success of treatment modalities for labial fusion: a retrospective evaluation of topical and surgical treatments.

STUDY OBJECTIVE: Standard treatment for girls with labial fusion has included topical estrogen cream, manual separation, or surgery. Side effects may limit the use of topical estrogen. Betamethasone has recently shown efficacy at separating labial fusion. Local irritation and inflammation may be an initiator of labial fusion. No adverse effects of betamethasone treatment have been documented. Long-term side effects are unknown. This study compares therapies for conservative management of labial fusion for efficacy and focuses on the response rate, time to separation, recurrence, and side effects of treatment.

DESIGN: A retrospective chart review.

PARTICIPANTS: One hundred fifty-one prepubertal girls, mean age 3 years (range 0.25-8.75 years) diagnosed with labial fusion.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: To investigate the incidence of related symptoms, length of topical estrogen or betamethasone treatment, side effects, rate of successful separation, rates of recurrence, percentage requiring surgery, and postoperative outcomes in patients with labial adhesion who underwent treatment.

RESULTS: Of 151 patients with labial adhesion, 11 (7.3%) presented with urinary frequency, 30 (19.9%) with urinary tract infections, 13 (8.6%) with vaginitis, and 19 (12.6%) with post-void dripping. When compared to patients treated with betamethasone (1.3 months), patients treated primarily with premarin took nearly twice as long (2.2 months) for resolution of their adhesions. Rates of recurrence were lower for patients receiving betamethasone therapy. Side effects for estrogen therapy included breast budding and vaginal bleeding, and for betamethasone, local irritation was reported. Some patients went on to surgery and experienced recurrence after surgery.

CONCLUSION: Initial comparison of topical estrogen and betamethasone treatment of labial fusion suggests that betamethasone may separate fusion quicker with less recurrence and fewer side effects than topical estrogen therapy.

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