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A fistula is a passage or hole that has formed between:
A fistula that has formed in the wall of the vagina is called a vaginal fistula.
See pictures of a vesicovaginal fistula and a rectovaginal fistula.
A vaginal fistula starts with some kind of tissue damage. After days to years of tissue breakdown, a fistula opens up.
A vaginal fistula sometimes happens after:
In areas where women have no health care nearby, vaginal fistulas are much more common. After days of pushing a baby that does not fit through the birth canal, very young mothers can have severe vaginal, bladder, or rectal damage, sometimes causing fistulas.
A vaginal fistula is usually painless. But a fistula lets urine or feces pass into your vagina. This is called incontinence. And it can cause soiling problems that you cannot control.
Your symptoms are the most clear signs of a vaginal fistula. Your doctor will want to talk about your symptoms and about any surgery, trauma, or disease that could have caused a fistula. For a physical exam, your doctor will use a speculum to look at the vaginal walls. You may have other tests, such as:
Your doctor may also use an X-ray, endoscope or MRI to get a clear look and check for all possible tissue damage.
If you have a vaginal fistula, you will most likely need surgery to repair it. Before surgery, your doctor will see whether the tissue is healthy or needs to heal first.
After fistula repair surgery, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions. See your doctor right away if you have signs of infection, such as a fever, tenderness, swelling, or redness.
Other Works Consulted
Katz VL (2012). Postoperative counseling and management. In GM Lentz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 6th ed., pp. 583-621. Philadelphia: Mosby. Lentz GM (2012). Anatomic defects of the abdominal wall and pelvic floor. In GM Lentz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 6th ed., pp. 453-474. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier. Wong M, Ozel B (2010). Fistulae. In Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5th ed., pp. 328-332. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer Deborah A. Penava, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofOctober 6, 2017
Current as of:
October 6, 2017
Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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