A rectovaginal fistula is a medical condition where there is a fistula or abnormal connection between the rectum and the vagina. Passage of gas, stool or pus from the vagina. Foul-smelling vaginal discharge. Recurrent vaginal or urinary tract infections. Irritation or pain in the vulva, vagina and the area between the vagina and anus (perineum) Pain during sexual intercourse.
After diagnosing rectovaginal fistula, it is best to wait for around 3 months to allow the inflammation to subside. For low fistulae, a vaginal approach is best, while an abdominal repair would be necessary for a high fistula at the posterior fornix. A circular incision is made around the fistula and vagina is separated from the underlying rectum with a sharp circumferential dissection. The entire fistulous tract, along with a small rim of rectal mucosa is incised. The rectal wall is then closed extramucosally.
The records of 22 patients at Temple University Hospital with a diagnosis of rectovaginal fistula, from January 1970 to December 1980, were reviewed. The age at the time of diagnosis ranged from 18 to 75 years with an average of 47.3 years. Most had symptoms and signs which included fecal incontinence, flatus passage per vagina, tenesmus, distressing diarrhea and urinary tract infection. The majority of the fistulas were present for more than a year before the corrective operative procedure was attempted.