Enterocutaneous fistula

An enterocutaneous fistula (ECF) is an abnormal connection that develops between the intestinal tract and the skin. As a result, contents of the GI tract leak through to the skin. Most ECFs occur after bowel surgery. Other causes include infection, perforated ulcer, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. An ECF may also develop from an abdominal injury or trauma, such as a stabbing or gunshot. Patients with ECFs often experience complex problems that require long-term care. This care is provided by a multidisciplinary team including surgeons, nurses, wound therapists, social workers and nutritionists.

Signs/Symptoms of Enterocutaneous fistula

Enterocutaneous fistulas (ECFs) can cause contents of the GI tract to leak through a wound or opening in the skin. The fistula itself can cause dehydration and malnutrition.

Diagnosis of Enterocutaneous fistula

Abdominal CT scan is usually used as a first line test to find a fistula. A fistulogram, which involves injecting contrast dye into the opening of the skin of an ECF and taking X-rays is another way to diagnose a fistula.

Treatment of Enterocutaneous fistula

If the enterocutaneous fistula (ECF) doesn't heal on its own after a few weeks or months, a complex surgery is required to close the fistula and reconnect the gastrointestinal tract.

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