We know how much a fistula can disrupt your quality of life. Our team specializes in complex fistula repair and sphincter-sparing surgery to help you heal.

We know how much a fistula can disrupt your quality of life. Our team specializes in complex fistula repair and sphincter-sparing surgery to help you heal.

A fistula is an abnormal connection that forms between an organ, vessel or intestine and another part of your body. Types of fistulas include:

  • Anal and gastrointestinal fistulas, which are often caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, or sometimes treatment for colorectal cancer.
  • Vaginal and rectovaginal fistulas, which can be caused by childbirth, pelvic surgery or other conditions.

Signs You Should Get Help for Fistulas

Fistulas can cause physical pain as well as emotional distress. Our doctors have several innovative ways to treat your symptoms, which may include the following:

Care for Fistulas at Rush

Our colon and rectal surgeons are experts in treating the most challenging types of anal fistulas and abscesses and put their experience to work for you. We offer the latest types of sphincter-sparing surgery, such as the LIFT (ligation of the intersphincteric fistula tract) procedure, which helps preserve your ability to control your bowels.

Our team has also pioneered minimally invasive and robotic techniques to treat fistulas, so you can recover from surgery more quickly and with less pain than traditional surgery.

For vaginal or pelvic fistulas, our abdominal and pelvic health specialists can also offer minimally invasive options to reduce your pain and scarring and speed your recovery.

Fistula Providers at Rush

Learn more about fistula providers at Rush.

Meet our fistula providers
stethoscope Meet our fistula providers

Rush Excellence in Fistula Care

  • Convenient, quick access to specialists: We don't want you to wait for care, especially when you're dealing with the discomfort and stress of a fistula. That's why we give you plenty of options to see a doctor, typically within one week. We also have doctors in multiple locations so you can see one close to home or even virtually.
  • Among the best in GI care and surgery: When you have a fistula, it's important to go where the experts are. You can find them at Rush. U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center as one of the country's best hospitals for gastroenterology and GI surgery.
  • Surgeons skilled in complicated fistula repair: Our colorectal surgeons have experience treating the most complex and recurrent anal fistulas using minimally invasive techniques. We also offer laser treatment to close and heal fistulas while preserving the anal sphincter — an option that is not widely available.
  • Support from leading IBD experts: Many times, fistulas are caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Our team at Rush includes dedicated IBD specialists so you can benefit from a more holistic approach to your care.
  • Second opinions from experts: Our doctors will help you understand your fistula repair options, including laser therapy and sphincter-sparing surgery, so you can make the most informed decision before you receive treatment.

The most satisfying thing I find about my job is when a patient comes in and we're able to find a good treatment strategy, and they leave feeling much better and happier.

Henry Govekar, MD, Colon and Rectal Surgeon