A Vaginal Fistula is a severe medical condition that develops in a woman’s vagina. The doctor might describe the fistula as a tiny hole that allows stool or urine to pass through the vagina.
A Vaginal Fistula can be very upsetting. The leakage of stool and urine from the vagina can be embarrassing and smell bad.
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What is Vaginal Fistula?
There are different types of Vaginal Fistula, namely:
- ● Vesicovaginal fistula: opening between the vagina and the bladder. It is also known as a bladder fistula and is the most common type of vaginal fistula.
- ● Urethrovaginal fistula: opening between the vagina and the urethra (the thin tube that carries urine out of your body). It is also called the urethral fistula.
- ● Rectovaginal fistula: opening between the vagina and the rectum (the lower part of the large intestine).
- ● Ureterovaginal fistula: opening between the vagina and the ureters (ducts that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder).
- ● Colovaginal fistula: opening between the vagina and the colon.
- ● Enterovaginal fistula: opening between the vagina and the small intestine.
What are the Causes of Vaginal Fistula?
- ● Abdominal surgery such as C-section or hysterectomy
- ● Radiation treatment
- ● Colon, pelvic, or cervical cancer
- ● Childbirth
- ● Bowel diseases such as diverticulitis or Crohn’s disease
- ● Infection caused during childbirth or after an episiotomy
- ● Traumatic injuries such as a car accident
What are the Symptoms of Vaginal Fistula?
It may also make your genitals sore, which can cause difficulty during intercourse.
The common signs and symptoms of a Vaginal Fistula include:
- ● Diarrhoea
- ● Unexplained weight loss
- ● Vomiting
- ● Nausea
- ● Stomach pain
- ● Fever
- ● Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- ● Recurrent vaginal infections
- ● Irritation in the vulva or vagina
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, immediately seek medical assistance.
How is Vaginal Fistula Diagnosed?
To confirm the diagnosis, the following tests and examinations may be done:
- ● Dye Test: For this test, the doctor will inject a blue dye into your bladder. A tampon will be inserted into your vagina. If the dye leaks out from your vagina, the tampon will turn blue. This will confirm the diagnosis of a vaginal fistula.
- ● CT scan: A CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis can help locate the fistula and determine its causes.
- ● Cystoscopy: Using a thin device known as a cystoscope, the doctor will look inside your bladder and urethra for damage.
- ● X-rays: There are two common types of X-rays done to diagnose a Vaginal Fistula, namely:
- ● Retrograde pyelogram: for this test, the doctor will inject a dye into your ureters through the bladder. An X-ray will be taken to see if there is leakage between the ureter and the vagina.
- ● Fistulogram: this will create an X-ray image of your Vaginal Fistula. It will help the doctor determine if there is more than one fistula or other organs are damaged.
How is Vaginal Fistula Treated?
The doctor may devise a treatment plan for you based on the size, causes, and location of the fistula.
The treatment options include:
- ● Medications: To help treat the Vaginal Fistula or prepare you for surgery, the doctor may recommend antibiotics. It will help treat infections surrounding the vaginal fistula. You may also be prescribed antibiotics such as infliximab if you develop a Vaginal Fistula because of Crohn’s disease.
- ● Surgery: Severe cases of Vaginal Fistula may require surgery. For the surgery to be successful, the tissues surrounding the fistula need to be healthy. The doctor may recommend waiting for three to six months to let the tissue recover and see if the fistula heals on its own.
Surgical options include:
- ● Sewing a patch of skin over the fistula to close it
- ● Using a tissue graft from a healthy part of the body over the fistula opening
- ● Fixing the muscles of the anus if they are damaged
- ● Folding a skin flap over the fistula
What is the Results of Vaginal Fistula Treatment?
What are the Risk Associated with Vaginal Fistula Treatments?
- ● Bleeding
- ● Damage to the bowel
- ● Nerve damage