Vulvar vestibulitis subjects undergoing surgical intervention: a descriptive analysis and histopathological correlates

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1996 Sep;68(1-2):165-8. doi: 10.1016/0301-2115(96)02502-x.


Objective: We describe here a series of selected patients from an established vaginitis research clinic diagnosed with vulvovestibulitis (VV) who underwent surgical intervention for focal disease. Long-term results of surgical correction are reported and characteristic histopathology findings associated with vulvar vestibulitis are emphasized.

Study design: A retrospective chart review was carried out to extract relevant clinical, histologic, and outcome data. Tissue blocks of resected specimens were re-examined for specific inflammatory response.

Results: Complete data and long-term follow up were available in 16 patients who underwent surgical intervention. All were cared for by the same practitioner (CM). The mean (+/- S.D.) age and gravidity on presentation were 26.9 +/- 5.3 years and 0.9 +/- 1.5, respectively. All but one was caucasian, and 70% were nulliparous. Symptoms included entry dyspareunia (100%), discharge (70%), burning (66%), itching (20%) and other (30%). All patients had focal tenderness; other findings were erythema (50%), acetowhite staining (80%), edema (20%), micropapules (20%) and condyloma (10%). After diagnosis, initial duration of conservative management was 9.4 +/- 6.9 months (1-26 months). No patients received interferon therapy. Because of persistent symptoms the 16 subjects underwent targeted partial perineoplasties. Initial histopathology results revealed chronic inflammation, parakeratosis, hyperkeratosis, edema, koilocytosis and acanthosis. When tissue blocks were cut and stained with Giemsa, large numbers of mast cells were identified. Mean postoperative follow up was 42.0 +/- 22.4 months (10-70 months). Follow up after surgery showed an overall improvement in 15/16 patients (93.8%).

Conclusions: VV affects primarily white, nulliparous women. In the carefully selected subject, surgical intervention has a high success rate, even on long-term follow up. Although the exact etiology for this condition has yet to be elucidated, the presence of mast cells supports an association with other genitourinary inflammatory syndromes such as interstitial cystitis; and allows for speculation about a possible role played by mast cell activation in the etiology of VV.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cystitis, Interstitial / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mast Cells / pathology
  • Parity
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vulvitis / complications
  • Vulvitis / pathology
  • Vulvitis / surgery*
  • White People