9 Things You Should Know About Fistula

Fistulas are abnormal connections between hollow organs such as the intestine and bladder or small and large intestines.

A medical condition often causes them. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment choices available for fistulas. Here are some things that doctors need to tell patients who suffer from this condition:

1. It’s not Contagious or Infectious

A fistula is an abnormal connection between two body parts, such as between the intestine and bladder, and does not specifically cause incontinence, though certain types of fistulas can lead to symptoms affecting the control of bowel movements.

This can happen after a particularly bad bout of diverticulitis or from an unrelated condition.

Treatment for fistula involves surgery to correct the damage and reroute the digestive tract. But many doctors don’t tell their patients that fistula is not an infection or a contagious disease.

So, if you’re worried about passing it on to someone else, you don’t have to be — though you should still practice good hygiene.

2. There are Two Kinds of Fistulas

Fistulas can be categorized into many types based on their location and the organs they connect. Examples include anal fistulas, vesicovaginal fistulas, and arteriovenous fistulas. Dismissive doctors might not tell their patients that there are different kinds, but they should.

According to WebMD, simple fistulas do not go all the way through the intestinal wall, whereas ECFs do. Both can potentially be corrected with surgery, but ECFs require more extensive procedures and more frequent follow-ups after treatment.

3. It’s Common

The prevalence of fistulas depends on the type and cause. There is no general estimate for all fistulas combined, as they can result from various conditions, including surgery, disease, or injury.

4. You’re not Alone

Most fistula patients will feel embarrassed and unable to talk openly about their condition mainly because they feel that they are the only ones.

It helps to let them know that there are other people in the same predicament and that it can be addressed accordingly.

5. Primary Causes of Fistulas

Fistulas are primarily caused by disease, injury, or surgical complication leading to an abnormal connection between two body parts, not specifically nerve injuries

6. You May Need a Colostomy

A colostomy may be required for some types of fistulas, especially those involving the bowel, but not all fistula treatments require a colostomy. Treatment varies based on the fistula’s location, size, and cause.

7. It’s Not Just the Crohn’s

Sometimes, doctors will tell their patients with Crohn’s disease that they have a fistula because it’s easier to tell them that than to explain that it might be a complication of the disease.

That can make patients feel as though their symptoms aren’t real and that they aren’t being taken seriously.

It can also send people down the wrong path as they try to treat what they think is an infection rather than addressing their underlying condition.

8. It’s Not Always Easy to Diagnose

Fistulas can be hard to detect, sometimes even for trained doctors who see lots of patients with Crohn’s every day. Plus, it may take time for symptoms to develop once the fistula forms.

If your doctor doesn’t seem particularly knowledgeable about Crohn’s or isn’t paying much attention to your symptoms, consider going to someone else for a second opinion or even getting a third opinion if the fistula is still not diagnosed after several visits with different specialists.

9. Fistulas Have no Cure

Depending on their cause and location, many fistulas can be effectively treated or cured through surgical repair. However, some may be challenging to treat and might recur.

Final Thoughts

Although Fistulas are not a type of urinary incontinence but can result in symptoms affecting urinary or bowel control depending on their location, such as vesicovaginal fistulas leading to urinary incontinence.

Since the symptoms often mimic those of other disorders, it’s important for patients to have a clear understanding of the condition and its treatment and it is your job as a health practitioner to do that.

DHHS Grant Program

Hardship Grants Provide You Fast Cash

Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids

How Much Do Surgeons Make

Current Version
February 18, 2022
Written By
Shubham Grover

Follow us