Fistulas to the urinary system in Crohn's disease: Clinical features and outcomes

Craig A. Solem, Edward V. Loftus, William J. Tremaine, John H. Pemberton, Bruce G. Wolff, William J. Sandborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Most reports of fistulas to the urinary system in Crohn's disease are relatively small. We sought to describe the clinical features and outcomes of these patients. METHODS: A centralized diagnostic index identified all Crohn's disease patients with urinary tract fistulas who were evaluated at our institution between 1976 and 2000. Medical records were abstracted for patient demographics, presenting symptoms, diagnostic tests, and all therapies. RESULTS: A total of 78 patients (56% men) were identified. Patients presented with pneumaturia (68%), dysuria (64%), recurrent urinary tract infections (32%), and fecaluria (28%). Cystoscopy and CT of the abdomen/pelvis had the highest diagnostic yield (74% and 52%, respectively). Fistulas originated from the ileum (64%), colon (21%), rectum (8%), and multiple sites (7%). Urinary tract sites included bladder (88%), urethra (6%), urachus (3%), ureter (1%), and other (1%). Median follow-up was 1.1 yr (0-22.3 yr). A total of 70 patients (90%) had surgery, with medical treatment first attempted in four patients with antibiotics and/or immunosuppressants. One patient had adequate symptom relief without surgery on antibiotic suppression alone. Six patients required a partial cystectomy, but no patient had a cystectomy or nephrectomy. Only three surgical patients had recurrent urinary system fistulas. CONCLUSIONS: Urinary tract fistulas in Crohn's disease occurred more often in men. Patients with these fistulas presented with pneumaturia, dysuria, recurrent infections, and fecaluria. The most helpful diagnostic tests were cystoscopy and CT of abdomen/pelvis. Surgery resulted in durable remission. Medical therapy for these fistulas deserves further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2300-2305
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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