A fistula is an unnatural passageway between two parts of the internal body that are not normally connected. Urologists diagnose and treat a variety of urinary fistula that occur between the urinary system and other systems.
Types of fistulas
Below is an overview of fistulas that affect the organs in the urinary system.
Bladder fistulas can occur when an opening connects the bladder to another organ, including the skin (an organ of the integumentary system).
When the bladder connects to the bowel (intestines), this can be categorized as a enterovesical fistula, vesicoenteric fistula, or Intestinovesical fistula. A colovesical fistula forms when the bladder connects to the large intestine. When this occurs, bowel may pass from the intestines into the bladder.
The bladder may also develop a connection to the vagina – a vesicovaginal fistula. This opening can become an avenue to pass urine into the vagina. A vesicovaginal fistula is one of several urogenital fistulas.
Urogenital fistulas and the urinary system
Along with the bladder, other urinary organs can connect to female reproductive organs. When a fistural develops between the urinary tract and the vagina, it is called a vesicovaginal fistula. Fistulas between the bladder and the uterus are called vesicouterine fistulas. A urethrovaginal fistula is an opening between the vagina and urethra. A ureterovaginal fistula is an opening between a ureter and the vagina.
Fistulas of the prostate
When men are treated for prostate cancer, they may develop prostate-rectal fistulas. These may occur after an open or robotic laparoscopy, placement of radiation seeds, or cryotherapy. A rectourethral fistula may also occur as a result of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) treatment of the prostate.
There are several reasons why a fistula may form. Among these factors include:
- Injury or trauma
- Radiation treatment
- Childbirth – urogenital fistulas
Symptoms associated with fistulas will vary depending on the type and location of the fistula. It is important to be assessed by a doctor if you are experiencing these types of symptoms:
- Hematuria – blood in the urine.
- Leaking urine from the vagina.
- Leaking fecal matter from the vagina.
- Passing gas through the vagina.
- Frequent or recurrent urinary tract infections.
- Air or gas in the urine.
- Fecal matter in the urine.
- Urine leakage from the rectum.
- Abdominal, rectal, or pelvic pain.
- Chills, fever, nausea, vomiting.
If you have urinary concerns, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.