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Endoscopic Fistula Closure

Endoscopic fistula closure is a safe, minimally invasive procedure to close holes or openings within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. We perform it in our hospital’s endoscopy unit. This dedicated outpatient unit is equipped with tools for performing complex procedures.  

Our gastroenterologists (physicians who have special training in treating the GI tract) use flexible, tube-like imaging instruments called endoscopes to look inside the body. Endoscopes provide a very high degree of detail to see the area of the body the doctor is treating. 

Endoscopic Fistula Closure: Why It’s Performed

Endoscopic fistula closure is a reliable technique to repair fistulas (holes or openings between organs or tissues). If not mended, these abnormal passageways can allow fluid to leak from one body cavity to another. This fluid leakage can result in pain, infection, organ damage and even death.

We perform endoscopic fistula closure as an outpatient procedure. By avoiding open or laparoscopic surgery, patients recover faster, have a lower chance of infection and may have less pain.

Fistulas may result from:

Endoscopic Fistula Closure: How to Prepare

Before your fistula closure:

  • For a fistula in the lower GI tract, follow a liquid diet plus a laxative or enema to cleanse the bowel.
  • For an upper GI tract fistula, do not eat or drink for 12 hours before the procedure to ensure your esophagus is clear of food products.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any allergies.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions about whether to take your prescription medications. 

Endoscopic Fistula Closure: What to Expect

On the day of your procedure, plan to arrive at the endoscopy unit up to three hours before the procedure. After you register and provide your medical history, inform your nurse about any medications you have taken. You must have someone drive you home after the procedure.

During the procedure, your gastroenterologist will:

  1. Insert an IV into your vein to deliver a sedative that will make you drowsy.
  2. Place a high-definition endoscope through your mouth or your anus, depending on the location of the fistula. Your doctor will observe the images on a screen.
  3. Locate the fistula and position tiny metal clips or stents. These will remain in the body to close the fistula.

After the procedure, we will bring you to a recovery room where we will monitor you as the effects of the sedative wear off. You will have an opportunity to discuss any results with your doctor before you leave.

Common side effects may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Excessive gas, bloating or cramping

Related Conditions: