James Marion Sims's Treatment of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula
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James Marion Sims developed a treatment for vesico-vaginal fistulas in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1840s. Vesico-vaginal fistulas were a relatively common condition in which a woman's urine leaked into her vaginal cavity from her bladder, and many regarded the fistulas as untreatable during the early 1800s. After years of efforts to repair the fistulas with myriad tools, techniques, and procedures, Sims developed the speculum and a vaginal examination position later named for him. He also popularized the use of silver metal sutures to treat and cure women who had vesico-vaginal fistulas. Sims's surgical cure for vesico-vaginal fistulas eased both the social stigma and physical discomfort of many affected women. Though current treatments of vesico-vaginal fistulas have evolved since the nineteenth century, some of the basic principles utilized by Sims have been incorporated into present-day surgeries. In particular, Sims stressed the significance of continual bladder drainage after the operation.