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What is a Urethral Fistula?

A urethral fistula is a passageway between the urethra and another tissue, most commonly the skin, leading to unwanted leakage of urine outside the normal pathway. This condition can arise for various reasons, whether due to an injury, surgery, inflammation, or even prolonged catheter use. Symptoms vary depending on the size and location of the fistula but typically include uncontrolled urine leakage, intermittent infections, or a sensation of discomfort.


To detect a urethral fistula, doctors start with a thorough discussion about symptoms and past medical conditions, as well as a detailed examination. Sometimes, a cystoscopy is necessary, where the doctor can directly look inside the urethra and bladder. Contrast tests such as urethrography or cystography can help accurately locate and determine the size of the fistula.


Treatment usually involves surgical intervention to close the fistula and restore the normal urine pathway. Depending on the size and location of the fistula, as well as the cause of its formation, doctors may use different surgical techniques. For smaller fistulas, sometimes careful care and antibiotics are sufficient, but most require surgical repair.
Surgical procedures may involve direct suturing of the fistula or the use of parts of the patient’s tissue for repair. Postoperative recovery includes careful maintenance of hygiene at the surgical site, taking antibiotics to prevent infections, and regular doctor’s visits. Patients are often advised to avoid heavy physical activity until the wound heals.