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Intestinal Fistula

Dear Ask The Doctor:
My dad is 70 and had 4 inches of his intestines removed 3 months ago. He got a fisula (fishula? - small hole in his intestines) after the surgury. He has had it for 3 months. What is the average recovery time and the longest it could take to heal? The doctor told us it was so small it could heal in a week - that was a month ago. What is the survival rate?


A fistula can be quite distressing problem for both patient and caregiver. The vast majority of fistulas close within three months if there are no factors preventing healing. Since your father has already had his fistula for three months then certain tests are required to determine why it has not healed. A CT scan is usually done.
Fistulas that fail to heal spontaneously require surgical closure. There is no specific time for surgical intervention. The timing of surgery is based on the discretion of the surgeon, overall patient well-being and the outcome of the tests done on the fistula

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