(Gastrointestinal Fistula; Entero-enternal Fistula)
An enterocutaneous fistula is an abnormal connection between the intestines and the skin. Intestinal or stomach contents can leak through it. They may also leak into another part of the body or outside of the body.
This is a problem that needs to be treated right away.
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Most of the time, this problem happens after a bowel surgery. Other causes are:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- Recent bowel surgery
- History of radiation therapy
Problems may be:
- Contents from the intestines that leak from an opening in the skin
- Belly pain
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a colon and rectal surgeon.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
This problem may heal on its own over 2 to 8 weeks. Care during this time may be:
- Nutritional support, such as diet changes, IV nutrition, or a feeding tube
- Antibiotics to treat an infection
- A drain to remove leaking fluids
Surgery will be done to close the opening if it does not heal on its own.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
American Gastroenterological Association
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
Crohn's & Colitis Canada
Cobb A, Knaggs E. The nursing management of enterocutaneous fistulae: a challenge for all. Br J Community Nurs. 2003;8(9):S32-S38.
Crohn disease in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/crohn-disease-in-adults. Accessed December 31, 2020.
Enterocutaneous fistula. UCSF Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/enterocutaneous_fistula. Accessed December 31, 2020.
Kalla R, Ventham NT, et al. Crohn disease. BMJ. 2014 Nov 19;349:g6670.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD Last Updated: 12/31/2020