A fistula occurs when there is abnormal connection between two parts of the body that are meant to be separate. Urinary fistulas are often caused by obstetrical intervention during delivery or complications from other surgeries, radiation, or underlying diseases. They are more common in women than they are in men.

Urinary fistula comes with frustrating symptoms, such as incontinence and recurring infection. The good news is that MedStar Georgetown offers definitive options for surgical treatment. MedStar Georgetown Urology specialists are fellowship trained, with specialized skill and knowledge to treat urinary fistula.

Symptoms of Urinary Fistula

Fistulas are often painless. Most people become aware they have a urinary fistula as a result of the following common symptoms:

  • Incontinence
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Irritation in vulva area
  • Abdominal pain.

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Diagnosis of Urinary Fistula

To diagnosis urinary fistula and plan appropriate treatment, MedStar Georgetown urologists will conduct an exam and discuss with you your medical history. 

Your physician may recommend further testing to effectively diagnose this condition and plan treatment. Tests may include imaging and cystoscopy, a test in which a tiny tube with a camera is inserted in the bladder. 

Treatment for Urinary Fistula

When a fistula is small and surrounding tissue is healthy, it may sometimes heal on its own after minimal intervention, such as catheterization.

Most fistulas require surgical repair. The type of surgery is determined by the location of the fistula, done either through the abdomen or vagina. Depending on location and size of the fistula, minimally invasive options—including robotic surgery for urinary fistula— are available at MedStar Georgetown.

After fistula repair, patients typically require a catheter for a few weeks. This is removed once the fistula has had a chance to heal.