Vesicovaginal and Ureterovaginal Fistulas
Vesicovaginal or ureterovaginal fistulas affect the vagina’s connections to the bladder and ureter ducts, respectively.Fistulas, which are openings created by a damaged connection between two body parts, aren’t contained to any one area of the body. They can also create unique complications for women when they develop in the vaginal area. Two types in particular, vesicovaginal and ureterovaginal fistulas, can cause problems by allowing urine to leak.
Causes of Vesicovaginal and Ureterovaginal FistulasFistulas are generally side effects of surgery, radiation treatment or injuries. They can also be caused by infections and cancer. Vesicovaginal fistulas, in particular, are the most commonly diagnosed vaginal fistulas and tend to develop after surgery.
Symptoms of Vesicovaginal and Ureterovaginal FistulasVesicovaginal fistulas are openings between the bladder and the wall of the vagina. Ureterovaginal fistulas occur between the vagina and the ureter ducts, which are responsible for carrying urine from the kidneys to the bladder. In either case, urine leaks from the opening and can eventually pass through the vagina. The amount of external leakage depends on the nature of the fistula, but it can range from light leakage to a steady flow.
Diagnosing Vesicovaginal and Ureterovaginal Fistulas
After a physical examination, a doctor may choose to go forward with several tests to determine the location, nature and other effects of a vesicovaginal or ureterovaginal fistula.
This testing may include:
- Retrograde pyelogram
- CT scan
- MRI imaging
- Dye tests
Treating Vesicovaginal and Ureterovaginal Fistulas
Treatment options for vesicovaginal and ureterovaginal fistulas may differ depending on the severity of the fistula. The urological experts at Tampa General Hospital can provide patients with the best possible care using some of the most advanced technology available.
Like most vaginal fistulas, vesicovaginal fistulas cannot be closed without surgery. Fortunately, the procedure is usually successful—especially among women whose vesicovaginal fistulas were not caused by cancer.
Ureterovaginal fistulas, however, can sometimes heal on their own without a surgical procedure. Non-surgical therapy may be possible if:
- The ureterovaginal fistula is small in size
- The patient has not had cancer
- The patient has not undergone radiation therapy
If it is not a simple ureterovaginal fistula, surgery is likely the only way to close it.