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Management of iatrogenic rectourethral fistula

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Diseases of the Colon & Rectum


PURPOSE: Rectourethral fistulas are uncommon, usually iatrogenic injuries that are challenging to treat. Our aim was to determine a logical approach to surgical treatment of this often debilitating problem. METHODS: Records of all patients who were diagnosed with rectourethral fistula between January 1981 and December 1995 were reviewed and 16 males were identified. All but three patients had had intervention for their prostatic malignancy performed elsewhere. All patients were interviewed by telephone to establish follow-up. The mean age of the sixteen patients was 68 years. The mean follow-up was 80 months. Adenocarcinoma of the prostate in 15 patients and recurrent transitional cell epithelioma of the bladder in one patient were the underlying malignant diseases. Seven patients had a radical retropubic prostatectomy, two had radical retropubic prostatectomy after radiation, two had brachytherapy, and three were treated by a combination of radiation and brachytherapy. One patient formed a fistula after cystectomy and dilation of a stricture. This heterogenous group of patients received multiple therapies including initial colostomy (7 patients), transanal repair (2 patients), parasacral repair (2 patients), transperineal repair (2 patients), coloanal anastomosis (3 patients), and muscle transposition (3 patients). Four of our patients required a permanent stoma. CONCLUSION: In patients with iatrogenic rectourethral fistula that occurred after radical retropubic prostatectomy or radiation, fecal and urinary diversion and muscle transposition followed by re-establishment of both urinary and intestinal continuity may be the treatment modality of choice.

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Read at the meeting of The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 22 to 26, 1997.

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Nyam, D.C.N.K., Pemberton, J.H. Management of iatrogenic rectourethral fistula. Dis Colon Rectum 42, 994–997 (1999).

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