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Enterocutaneous Fistula

(Gastrointestinal Fistula; Entero-enternal Fistula)

Definition

An enterocutaneous fistula is an abnormal connection between the intestines and the skin. Intestinal or stomach contents can leak through this connection. The contents may leak into another part of the body or outside of the body.
Enterocutaneous Fistula
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Causes

Most enterocutaneous fistulas develop as a complication of bowel surgery. Other causes include:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of enterocutaneous fistula include:

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a colon and rectal surgeon.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

Treatment

A fistula may be able to heal on its own over 2-8 weeks. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Prevention

There are no steps you can take to help prevent fistulas.

RESOURCES

American Gastroenterological Association http://www.gastro.org

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America http://www.ccfa.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Crohn's & Colitis Canada http://www.crohnsandcolitis.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Cobb A, Knaggs E. The nursing management of enterocutaneous fistulae: a challenge for all. BrJCommunity Nurs. 2003;8;9:S32-8.

Enterocutaneous fistula. UCSF Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/enterocutaneous%5Ffistula. Accessed April 2, 2013.

Pritts TA, Fischer DR, Fischer JE. Postoperative enterocutaneous fistula. Holzheimer RG, Mannick JA, editors. Surgical Treatment: Evidence-Based and Problem-Oriented. Munich: Zuckschwerdt; 2001. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK6914. Accessed September 23, 2014.

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