May 3, 2022

What is a Fistula?

The term fistula refers to an abnormal connection between two hollow organs in the body. Fistulae can occur as a result of injury or disease or can be medically induced through surgery for therapeutic reasons. There are many different kinds of fistulae that can occur throughout the body, that are often categorized into one of four classifications:

  • Complex: multiple connections, affecting more than one organ
  • External: a connection between a portion of the gastrointestinal tract to the skin
  • Extraintestinal: a connection of part of the intestine to another organ in the body
  • Intestinal: a connection between two different portions of the intestine

What is the Cause of a Fistula?

There are many different causes of fistulae, depending on the type and location. Common causes of fistulae, in general, can include:

  • Born with a fistula
  • Complication from surgery
  • Injury
  • Infection
  • Diseases including Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis

What are the Symptoms of a Fistula?

Symptoms for fistulae vary greatly depending on the type of fistula, and its severity. Common symptoms of fistulae relating to the digestive tract can include:

  • Pain
  • Dehydration
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Malnutrition
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

What are the Treatments for a Fistula?

Treatment for a fistula depends on the location and severity. Some fistulae will close on their own, with no other treatment. Sometimes, fistulae can be treated surgically or using medication. You should speak to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.