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Gastrointestinal fistula

  • Definition

    A gastrointestinal fistula is an abnormal opening that allows the contents of the stomach or intestines to leak.

    • If it leaks through to a part of the intestines, it is called an entero-enteral fistula.
    • If it leaks to through to the skin, it is called an enterocutaneous fistula.

    Alternative Names

    Entero-enteral fistula; Enterocutaneous fistula; Fistula - gastrointestinal

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Most gastrointestinal fistulas occur after surgery. Other causes include:

    • Gastrointestinal obstruction
    • Inflammatory processes, such as infection or inflammatory bowel disease (most often Crohn's disease)
    • Radiation to the abdomen (most often given as part of cancer treatment)
    • Trauma, especially penetrating wounds such as those due to a stabbing or gunshot