While genitourinary fistulas can cause pain, disability, and hardship, these conditions often respond well to treatments.
The human genitourinary system consists of the organs and other parts of the genital and urinary areas. The organs of these systems are responsible for many vital bodily functions, and keeping them in good condition is tantamount to maintaining good health.
- Like all bodily systems, these organs are subject to damage from a variety of infections and traumas.
- Some of these traumatic injuries and infections can cause the potentially disabling condition called a complete genitourinary fistula.
What are Complete Fistulas?
Fistulas are pathological holes or connections between organs or vessels. Fistulas come in many different varieties and often receive their names from their defining features. Some common fistula varieties include:
- Blind fistulas: These holes or fissures connect two bodily structures, with one open-end.
- Complete fistulas: These also connect two structures, but have both external and internal openings.
- Horseshoe fistulas: This type of fistula runs from the anus to the skin.
- Incomplete fistulas: Incomplete varieties often run from the skin to a vessel.
In addition, several genitourinary fistulas are specific to females. These include:
- Recto-uterine fistulas: These form holes between the bowel and the uterus.
- Metroperitoneal fistulas: This type of fistula forms between the uterus and the peritoneal cavity.
How Do Fistulas Form?
Genitourinary complete fistulas form in response to physical trauma and infection, among other things. Blunt force trauma, such as that experienced by car accident survivors or fall victims, can rupture and damage urogenital organs or systems. Other common sources of internal damage include serious urinary tract infections, pelvic fractures, and colitis.
Fistulas also form in women in response to problematic childbirth experiences and pelvic surgeries like hysterectomies.
The effects of fistulas are varied. The type, location, severity, cause, and patient health can all influence the overall effects of fistulas. However, certain kinds of fistulas exhibit similar symptoms.
Urinary tract infections and incontinence are classic signals of the possible presence of fistulas. In addition, more general symptoms like vomiting, nausea, fever, and passage of stool or pus from the vagina may indicate this condition.
Are These Structures Curable?
Genitourinary fistulas occur in varying levels of severity. Modern diagnostic methods can enable skilled physicians to pinpoint and classify fistulas more accurately. In addition to patient histories and physical exams, doctors often use a range of diagnostic tests to learn more about fistulas. These include:
- Arteriography: This procedure provides medical professionals with x-ray images of blood vessels in the urinary tract.
- Retrograde cystography: This measure uses x-rays and contrast dyes to find urinary bladder injuries.
- Blood tests: These can provide doctors with information about possible infectious agents.
After diagnosis, genitourinary physicians use this information to design personalized treatments for fistula sufferers. These can include bed rest, medications, therapy, and corrective surgery. Surgeries can include tissues grafts, fistula plugs, and sphincter muscle repairs.