A gastrointestinal fistula is an abnormal opening in the stomach or intestines that allows the contents to leak.
Entero-enteral fistula; Enterocutaneous fistula; Fistula - gastrointestinal; Crohn disease - fistula
Most gastrointestinal fistulas occur after surgery. Other causes include:
Depending on where the leak is, these fistulas may cause diarrhea, and poor absorption of nutrients. Your body may not have as much water and fluids as it needs.
Treatments may include:
Some fistulas close on their own after a few weeks to months.
The outlook depends on the person's overall health and how bad the fistula is. People who are otherwise healthy have a very good chance of recovery.
Fistulas may result in malnutrition and dehydration, depending on their location in the intestine. They may also cause skin problems and infection.
Call your health care provider if you have:
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Li Y, Zhu W. Pathogenesis of Chron's disease-associated fistula and abscess. In: Shen B, ed. Interventional Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Cambridge, MA: Elsevier Academic Press; 2018:chap 4.
Nussbaum MS, McFadden DW. Gastric, duodenal, and small intestinal fistulas. In: Yeo CJ, ed. Shackleford's Surgery of the Alimentary Tract. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 76.