Medical evaluation of suspected child sexual abuse: 2011 update

J Child Sex Abus. 2011 Sep;20(5):588-605. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2011.606107.


The medical evaluation of children with suspected sexual abuse includes more than just the physical examination of the child. The importance of taking a detailed medical history from the parents and a history from the child about physical sensations following sexual contact has been emphasized in other articles in the medical literature. The examination is important, however, and medical providers who examine children need to be aware of published research on findings in nonabused children, studies of healing of injuries, and studies documenting the association between sexual contact and the diagnosis of sexually transmissible infections in children. This article reviews the current approach to interpreting findings in children who may have been sexually abused and why additional research is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis*
  • Child Health Services / organization & administration
  • Child Welfare
  • Clinical Competence
  • Female
  • Forensic Medicine / methods
  • Forensic Medicine / standards*
  • Genitalia, Female / injuries
  • Genitalia, Male / injuries
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking / methods
  • Medical History Taking / standards*
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Physical Examination / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis
  • United States