A fistula is an abnormal connection or hole between two organs. A rectovaginal fistula is a connection between your vagina and rectum — an opening that allows the contents of one into another. It puts you at risk of recurrent infections, fecal incontinence, irritation, and other complications.
Some rectovaginal fistulas can heal over time without treatment, but all fistulas require close supervision until they do. Other large fistulas need treatment right away.
There are many reasons why a rectovaginal fistula may appear. Fistulas don’t occur spontaneously but rather as a result or complication of other conditions or surgeries. You might develop a rectovaginal fistula due to:
Your providers at Valley Urogynecology Associates explore the various causes and risk factors to identify the cause of your rectovaginal fistula to help them develop a suitable treatment plan. Once you know how a rectovaginal fistula appeared, you may be able to prevent them in the future.
Valley Urogynecology Associates uses advanced diagnostics to locate and diagnose a rectovaginal fistula. Before performing a pelvic examination, the team asks about symptoms, such as bowel leakage from the vagina, foul-smelling discharge, and recurrent vaginal infections.
If the team can’t find the fistula upon examination, your providers may use a small metal probe. They may also perform a transanal ultrasound to find out if your fistula involves the anal sphincters.
Your treatment of a rectovaginal fistula depends on its size, cause, and location. Some smaller and more recent fistulas can heal on their own over time, but your providers must keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t grow.
Suppose you need more extensive care for a fistula. In that case, your providers at Valley Urogynecology Associates can provide medications to control inflammation due to inflammatory bowel disease or perform vaginal surgery to close the fistula using a tissue graft.
For more information about rectovaginal fistulas and the surgical techniques to repair them, call Valley Urogynecology Associates or book an appointment online today.