Gastrointestinal Fistula

An abnormal opening in the digestive tract which causes the gastric juices to escape through the lining of the stomach or intestine is called a gastrointestinal fistula (GIF). The occurrence of a Gastrointestinal Fistula is common in gastrointestinal surgeries and patients suffering from chronic digestive problems. 

Depending on the type of fistula, the doctor may consider a treatment regimen that allows the fistula to heal by itself. Gastrointestinal Fistula treatment can take weeks or even months to self-heal.

Do you want to know the treatment option? Please contact our doctor at Medfin.

What is a Gastrointestinal Fistula?


An abnormal opening in the digestive tract which causes the gastric juices to escape through the lining of the stomach or intestine is called a gastrointestinal fistula (GIF). 

The place where these fluids seep can result in an infection in that organ or skin.

The occurrence of a Gastrointestinal Fistula is common in gastrointestinal surgeries and patients suffering from chronic digestive problems.


What are the Types of Gastrointestinal Fistula?


There are four main types of Gastrointestinal Fistulas:

Intestinal fistula: Also known as a "gut-to-gut" fistula. An abnormal opening is formed between the folds of the intestine and the gastric fluid from one part of the intestine seeps into another.

Extraintestinal fistula: The fistula gets formed with other surrounding organs, such as the bladder, vascular system (blood vessels), or lungs. Thus, allowing the gastric fluid to leak into these organs.

External fistula: Also called the "cutaneous fistula" the gastric fluid seeps into the skin.

Complex fistula: It is a fistula that occurs and impacts more organs by the leakage of gastric fluids.


What are the Causes of Gastrointestinal Fistula?


A GIF can occur due to many conditions that favor its formation:

Spontaneous GIF: 

In about 15-20 percent of the cases, a GIF is formed without a known factor.

An approximate 40 percent of the patients suffering from Crohn's disease are known to develop a GIF at some point in their condition. Crohn's disease is categorized under Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).

Surgery related complication:

 An intra-abdominal surgery in about 85-90 percent of the cases is known to cause a GIF formation after the surgery. Factors responsible for such kind of surgery could be:

  • ​Malnutrition
  • Infection
  • Bowel obstruction
  • A blood clot under the skin (hematoma)
  • Abscess
  • Tumour
  • Cancer

The problem arising from the incision site (Surgery related complications):

  • ​Improper surgical suturing
  • Radiation treatment to the abdominal region
  • The symptoms are dependent on the site where the fistula has formed. 
  • Individuals who have developed internal fistulas may show the following symptoms:
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Poor absorption of the food consumed and weight loss
  • Sepsis (infection in the blood)
  • Rectal bleeding

Sepsis

It is a symptom that needs immediate medical attention and care. It is a severe response of the body to bacterial exposure.

It should be considered as a medical emergency, because if unattended, the condition may lead to extremely low blood pressure, damage to the organs, and even death.

External fistulas

It results in discharge through the skin, pose the following symptoms:

  • ​Fever
  • Hike in the white blood cell (WBC) count
  • Painful bowel obstruction
  • Pain in the abdomen

Any of the symptoms should be met with immediate evaluation of a medical professional to avoid further complications of the condition


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