BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuGastrointestinal fistulaEntero-enteral fistula; Enterocutaneous fistula; Fistula - gastrointestinal; Crohn disease - fistulaA 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. Causes Most gastrointestinal fistulas occur after surgery. Other causes include:Blockage in the intestine Infection (such as diverticulitis) DiverticulitisDiverticula are small, bulging sacs or pouches that form on the inner wall of the intestine. Diverticulitis occurs when these pouches become inflame...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Crohn disease Crohn diseaseCrohn disease is a disease where parts of the digestive tract become inflamed. It most often involves the lower end of the small intestine and the be...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article 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) LyeSodium hydroxide is a very strong chemical. It is also known as lye and caustic soda. This article discusses poisoning from touching, breathing in ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Symptoms 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.DiarrheaDiarrhea is when you pass loose or watery stool.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Some fistulas may not cause symptoms. Other fistulas cause intestinal contents to leak through an opening in the skin. Exams and Tests Tests may include:Barium swallow to look in the stomach or small bowel Barium swallowAn upper GI and small bowel series is a set of x-rays taken to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Barium enema is a related test th...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Barium enema to look in the colon Barium enemaBarium enema is a special x-ray of the large intestine, which includes the colon and rectum.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article CT scan of the abdomen to look for fistulas between loops of the intestines or areas of infection CT scanA computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create pictures of cross-sections of the body. Related tests include:Abdomin...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Fistulogram, in which contrast dye is injected into the opening of the skin of a fistula and x-rays are taken Treatment 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. Outlook (Prognosis) 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. Possible Complications Fistulas may result in malnutrition and dehydration, depending on their location in the intestine. They may also cause skin problems and infection. When to Contact a Medical Professional 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 surgeryOpen ReferencesReferencesDe 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.AllVideoImagesTogDigestive system organs - illustration The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.Digestive system organsillustrationFistula - illustration A fistula is an abnormal connection between an organ, vessel, or intestine and another organ, vessel or intestine, or the skin. Fistulas can be thought of as tubes connecting internal tubular structures, such as arteries, veins, or intestine, to one another or to the skin. Fistulas are usually the result of trauma or surgery, but can also result from infection or inflammation.FistulaillustrationDigestive system organs - illustration The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.Digestive system organsillustrationFistula - illustration A fistula is an abnormal connection between an organ, vessel, or intestine and another organ, vessel or intestine, or the skin. Fistulas can be thought of as tubes connecting internal tubular structures, such as arteries, veins, or intestine, to one another or to the skin. Fistulas are usually the result of trauma or surgery, but can also result from infection or inflammation.FistulaillustrationRelated Information Fistula(Special Topic) Review Date: 4/6/2020 Reviewed 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. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.