Rectovaginal fistula is an abnormal connection between the rectum and the vagina. Gas or stool may leak from the bowel into the vagina.
Healthy Wall Between Vagina and Rectum
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A rectovaginal fistula is caused by an injury to this area. It may be caused by physical trauma or a medical condition.
Factors that may increase your risk of rectovaginal fistula include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a colon and rectal surgeon.
Your body structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Surgery is usually needed. It is done to close the opening between the rectum and vagina. Tissue may be taken from another part of the body as a graft. This tissue will help to close the fistula.
You may be given antibiotics if the area around the fistula is infected.
There are no steps to prevent rectovaginal fistula.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Canadian Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Women's Health Matters
Wheeless CR, Roenneburg ML. Rectovaginal fistula repair. Atlas of Pelvic Surgery website. Available at:
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Accessed February 2, 2010.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013