Rectovaginal Fistula Repair

A rectovaginal fistula is a connection between the lower portion of the lower intestine (rectum) and the vagina. This can be caused by an injury during childbirth, cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, or a complication from surgery. Most need to be repaired surgically.


Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the fistula. The size, cause, location, and surrounding tissue help determine the treatment. Most rectovaginal fistula’s need to be repaired by surgery.

If the surrounding area is infected your treatment will most likely begin with a course of antibiotics. The goal of the surgery is to remove the fistula (opening) and close the opening, which is usually done by sewing together the surrounding healthy tissue. If there isn’t enough tissue a tissue graft may be taken from another area of the body.

Preparing For The Procedure

The bowel must be empty before the operation. The doctor will discuss with you the procedure for preparing your body for surgery. You may have to take laxatives and drink solutions that will help empty your bowels. You will be on a clear liquid diet for three days after the operation. You will also have to be on a low-fiber diet following the surgery to reduce the volume and frequency of stools.