Enterocutaneous fistula: A review of 82 cases

  • GE Njeze
  • UJ Achebe
Keywords: Enterocutaneous fistula, enteral nutritional support, operative or non-operative treatment


Objective: Enterocutaneous fistula is an unpleasant and troublesome complication of abdominal operations. The objective was to review the outcome of treatment of patients treated for enterocutaneous fistula.
Materials and Methods: This is a retrospective study of 82 teenage and adult patients, who suffered from enterocutaneous fistula, seen over an 11 year period, in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu. Patients’
charts were reviewed for biodata, etiology of the fistula, volume of the fistula output, and result of treatment. Majority of the fistulas occurred after abdominal operations; many by general practitioners. After treatment for correction of fluid and electrolyte deficits, they were all tried on conservative therapy with enteral nutritional support as the main stay of
management. Those, whose fistulas did not close, underwent surgical treatment. Total parenteral nutrition, octreotide, fibrin glue, and wound vacuum assisted closure (VAC) were not used for treating these patients.
Results: Spontaneous healing of fistulas occurred in 26 patients (31.7%), whereas 42 patients out of 50 (84%) healed after definitive operation. Fourteen patients (17%) in this study, died.
Conclusion: Proper management of fluid and electrolyte imbalances, enteral nutritional support, control of sepsis and correctly timed surgical therapy, resulted in this good healing rate and acceptable mortality, without the use of parenteral nutrition, biologic fibrin glue injection or VAC. Suggestions are offered about steps that may help in eradicating some
of these enterocutaneous fistulas.

Key words: Enterocutaneous fistula, enteral nutritional support, operative or non-operative treatment

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eISSN: 1119-3077