Living with a Fistula

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Some people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) may develop a fistula. A fistula is an abnormal channel or passageway connecting one internal organ to another, or to the outside surface of the body. Many fistulas (or fistulae) involve the bowel or intestine. So, a fistula might connect two parts of the bowel to each other, or the bowel to the vagina, bladder, or skin. About one in three people with Crohn’s will probably develop a fistula at some time. Fistulas are much less common in people with Ulcerative Colitis.

This information sheet provides some general information about these fistulas and likely treatments. It also includes tips and suggestions which may help you if you are living with a fistula. These are based on the advice of health professionals and the experiences of Crohn’s and Colitis UK members with this condition.