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Definition of Fistula

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Fistula: An abnormal passageway in the body. The fistula may go from the body surface into a blind pouch or into an internal organ or go between two internal organs. For a common example, an anal fistula has an opening in the skin near the anus that leads into a blind pouch or may connect through a tunnel with the rectal canal. For a rare example, a gastropericardial fistula is a passageway between the stomach and the pericardial sac (that surrounds the heart). There are numerous types of fistulas. They are usually designated by the organs or parts they connect (anovaginal, bronchoesophageal, etc.).

Reviewed on 12/13/2018

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