Learn About Gastrointestinal Fistula

What is the definition of Gastrointestinal Fistula?

A gastrointestinal fistula is an abnormal opening in the stomach or intestines that allows the contents to leak.

  • Leaks that go through to a part of the intestines are called entero-enteral fistulas.
  • Leaks that go through to the skin are called enterocutaneous fistulas.
  • Other organs can be involved, such as the bladder, vagina, anus, and colon.
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What are the alternative names for Gastrointestinal Fistula?

Entero-enteral fistula; Enterocutaneous fistula; Fistula - gastrointestinal; Crohn disease - fistula

What are the causes of Gastrointestinal Fistula?

Most gastrointestinal fistulas occur after surgery. Other causes include:

  • Blockage in the intestine
  • Infection (such as diverticulitis)
  • Crohn disease
  • Radiation to the abdomen (most often given as part of cancer treatment)
  • Injury, such as deep wounds from stabbing or gunshot
  • Swallowing caustic substances (such as lye)
What are the symptoms of Gastrointestinal Fistula?

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.

  • Some fistulas may not cause symptoms.
  • Other fistulas cause intestinal contents to leak through an opening in the skin.
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What are the current treatments for Gastrointestinal Fistula?

Treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Immune suppressing medicines if the fistula is a result of Crohn disease
  • Surgery to remove the fistula and part of the intestines if the fistula is not healing
  • Nutrition through a vein while the fistula heals (in some cases)

Some fistulas close on their own after a few weeks to months.

Who are the top Gastrointestinal Fistula Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
24
conditions

Cleveland Clinic Florida

Surgical Department, 
Al Mansurah, DK, EG 

Sameh Emile practices in Al Mansurah, Egypt. Emile is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Gastrointestinal Fistula. He is also highly rated in 24 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Gastrointestinal Fistula, Rectal Prolapse, Anal Fissure, and Rectocele.

Elite
Highly rated in
12
conditions
General Surgery

Cleveland Clinic Main Campus

9500 Euclid Ave, 
Cleveland, OH 

Gareth Morris-Stiff is a General Surgeon in Cleveland, Ohio. Morris-Stiff has been practicing medicine for over 30 years and is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Gastrointestinal Fistula. He is also highly rated in 12 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Gastrointestinal Fistula, Cholecystitis, Gallstones, and Gallbladder Cancer. He is licensed to treat patients in Ohio.

 
 
 
 
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Elite
Highly rated in
6
conditions

Imperial College London

London, ENG, GB 

Kapil Sahnan practices in London, United Kingdom. Sahnan is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Gastrointestinal Fistula. He is also highly rated in 6 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Gastrointestinal Fistula, Anorectal Abscess, Crohn's Disease, and Viral Gastroenteritis.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Gastrointestinal Fistula?

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.

What are the possible complications of Gastrointestinal Fistula?

Fistulas may result in malnutrition and dehydration, depending on their location in the intestine. They may also cause skin problems and infection.

When should I contact a medical professional for Gastrointestinal Fistula?

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • Very bad diarrhea or other major change in bowel habits
  • Leakage of fluid from an opening on the abdomen or near the anus, particularly if you have recently had abdominal surgery
Digestive system organs
Fistula
What are the latest Gastrointestinal Fistula Clinical Trials?
A Multi-Center Randomized Trial of Transanastomotic Tube for Proximal Esophageal Atresia With Distal Tracheoesophageal Fistula Repair
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Ligation of Intersphincteric Fistula Tract Versus Rectal Advancement Flap in the Treatment of Complex Anal Fistula: Randomised Clinical Trial
What are the Latest Advances for Gastrointestinal Fistula?
Comparison of an Inside Stent and a Fully Covered Self-Expandable Metallic Stent as Preoperative Biliary Drainage for Patients with Resectable Perihilar Cholangiocarcinoma.
Minimally Invasive vs Open Pancreatectomy for Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors: Multi-Institutional 10-Year Experience of 1,023 Patients.
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Endoscopic management of recurrent tracheoesophageal fistula with trichloroacetic acid in pediatric patients.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: April 06, 2020
Published By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

De Prisco G, Celinski S, Spak CW. Abdominal abscesses and gastrointestinal fistulas. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 29.

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.