A fistula is an abnormal connection between an organ, vessel, or intestine and another structure. Fistulas are usually the result of injury or surgery. It can also result from infection or inflammation.

Inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, is an example of a disease that leads to fistulas between one loop of intestine and another. Injury can lead to fistulas between arteries and veins.


Fistulas may occur in many parts of the body. Some of these are:

Types of fistulas include:


Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006.

Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 17th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006.

Review Date: 8/12/2011
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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