Types of Fistulas
There are three primary types of fistulas: a blind fistula, which will have one open end; a complete fistula, which has an internal and external opening, and an incomplete fistula with an opening at the skin, without any attachment to an organ. The majority of fistulas fall into these three categories, but some may have multiple branches.
The treatment options available depend on the type of fistula, its location and the path that it might take should it continue developing. After a thorough examination by a physician, treatment will be assessed depending on the age of the patient. Normally, if the fistula has an external opening, it is easy to determine the location, but the internal opening can be difficult to find. A scope may be inserted into the area to determine where the internal opening is. In some cases, a contrast solution may need to be injected and an X-ray or MRI test conducted to determine the path of the fistula.
For some types of fistulas, such as an anal fistula, an antibiotic may be prescribed to help cure the infection and heal the fistula. Normally, surgery for a fistula is only undertaken once this method has proved to be ineffective.
Surgery is usually required so the fistula can be drained. In some cases, pus develops in the area and it is important to drain it so that it does not abcess. In a fistulotomy, a tube is passed through part of the fistula, which allows for drainage. An endorectal flap may be created so that the healthy tissue is put over the fistula to prevent bodily waste from causing an infection. It is important to note that fistulas can recur and become infected despite surgical methods.
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