DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
A rectovaginal fistula is an abnormal connection between the lower portion of your large intestine — your rectum — and your vagina. Contents of your bowel can leak through the fistula, meaning you might pass gas or stool through your vagina.
A rectovaginal fistula may result from an injury during childbirth, Crohn's disease or other inflammatory bowel disease, radiation treatment or cancer in the pelvic area, or a complication following surgery in the pelvic area.
The symptoms of a rectovaginal fistula often cause emotional distress as well as physical discomfort, which can impact self-esteem and intimate relationships. Though bringing up the subject with your doctor may be difficult, it's important to have a rectovaginal fistula evaluated. Some rectovaginal fistulas may close on their own, but most need to be repaired surgically.
- deBeche-Adams TH, et al. Rectovaginal fistulas. Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery. 2010;23:99.
- Champagne BJ, et al. Rectovaginal fistula. The Surgical Clinics of North America. 2010;90:69.
- Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6361536. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- Gregorcyk SG, et al. Rectovaginal fistulas and rectoceles. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. http://www.fascrs.org/physicians/education/core_subjects/2001/rectovaginal_fistulas_and_rectoceles/. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Schwartz DA, et al. The role of imaging tests in the evaluation of anal abscesses and fistulas. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Fecal incontinence. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/fecalincontinence/#6. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Toglia MR. Rectovaginal, anovaginal, and colovesical fistulas. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- de la Poza G, et al. Genital fistulas in female Crohn's disease patients: Clinical characteristics and response to therapy. Journal of Crohn's and Colitis. 2012;6:276.
- Hoffman BL, et al. Williams Gynecology. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=56720725. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- Brunicardi FC, ed., et al. Schwartz's Principles of Surgery. 9th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5014922. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Gallenberg MM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 26, 2012.
- Klingele CJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 6, 2012.