What is a Fistula?

The term fistula describes an abnormal connection between two parts of the body. For example, a fistula may occur between an organ and another body part.

There are several types of fistulas:

  • Blind: A fistula that is only opened on one end, but is connected to two body structures.
  • Complete: This type of fistula has an opening outside the body, as well as inside the body.
  • Horseshoe: This type of fistula is between the anus and the surface of the skin, and it goes around the rectum.
  • Incomplete: An incomplete fistula is a tube that begins at the skin but is closed on the inside, so it does not connect with any body structures internally.

There are various possible locations of a fistula on the body. Some common fistula locations include:

  • Between arteries and veins
  • From bile ducts to the skin’s surface, due to gallbladder surgery
  • Between the neck and throat
  • From the cervix or bowel to the vagina
  • From the colon to the body’s surface
  • In the area inside the skull and nasal sinus
  • Between the stomach and the skin’s surface
  • From the navel to the gut
  • Between the uterus and the walls of the abdomen

It is also possible to have an anal fistula, which develops when the anus has an abnormal connection with another organ.

Another type of fistula, called a gastrointestinal fistula, is located in the digestive tract. This type of fistula may develop between one part of an intestine and another.

Applicable Procedures


What causes a fistula?

There are several causes of a fistula. For instance, injuries and surgery are potential causes. Other fistula causes include infections and inflammation. Fistulas can develop between arteries and veins as a result of an injury, whereas inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, can cause the development of fistulas between intestinal loops. An anal fistula can sometimes be congenital, meaning that it is present from the time a person is born. It occurs when an abnormal connection develops between the anus and another organ.

How is a fistula treated?

Treatment for a fistula begins with a diagnosis. A doctor may diagnose a fistula by running blood tests, taking x-rays, or performing an endoscopy or CT scan. Fistula treatments will vary based upon the type and location of the fistula, and in some cases, a fistula may resolve on its own. Fistula treatments may involve managing infection, replenishing fluids, and correcting electrolyte imbalances. In some cases, a fistula may require surgery.

Do I have to seek treatment for a fistula?

If you think you may be suffering from a fistula, it is important to see a doctor to prevent complications. A medical professional can determine the best fistula treatment for your situation.

Common Symptoms

  • “I developed a fever accompanied by stomach pain.”
  • “I started to have diarrhea all the time, and I was suffering from rectal bleeding.”
  • “I felt dehydrated and started to lose weight, and my overall health just got worse.”

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What Our Patients Are Saying

I’ve been a patient of Dr. Weber for almost a decade. My husband for more than & it was he who recommended Dr. Weber. He’s knowledgeable & well experienced in his field. Plus he’s an all around kind & nice guy. And you’d like how the office & tech staff are trained to run the operation of this practice. Efficient, patient and helpful! I’d feel very comfortable recommending this practice.

Vicki M.

I had a great time. Everyone was very friendly and professional. One nurse said I had nice eyes, which really helped my self esteem. Dr. Willie was fantastic. His concern about having magenta ink for the printer really shows what a caring man he is. The pictures turned out great. I framed them and hung them up on my wall at home. But, seriously the experience was pleasant. Thank you to everyone involved.

Terry M.

Lord knows having a colonoscopy is zero fun. The prep nearly did me in. But after arriving at suite 270 every single person was pleasant and efficient. The attention to cleanliness in the office is very apparent and appreciated. Every employee introduced themselves by name, apologized for an IV that took two tries and made sure I was as comfortable as can be before I was ready to leave. However, I’m going to enjoy every minute of the five years before I need to return!

Marie C.

I have been here several times and have always been treated great. The receptionist are so kind and the nurses are wonderful so is the anesthesia person are so kind and answers any concerns you might have. My Dr Bologna is awesome. This is the place to go if you need endoscopy or colonoscopy. Thank all the staff for being so kind

Debbie A.

Our Doctors

We’re proud of our team here at Digestive Health Institute. Our health care providers include some of the very best colorectal surgeons, gastroenterologists and physician assistants. To learn more about our qualified team of specialists, please visit our providers page.

Anezi E. Bakken MD, MS

Sante D. Bologna MD, FACP

M. Emin Donat MD, FRCPC

Ronald Fogel MDCM, MHSA

Freeha Khan MD

Partha S. Nandi

Leonard G. Quallich III MD

Aditi Saxena MD

Jack Tocco DO

John R. Weber MD

Richard T. Wille MD


What happens during my first visit?
If you are a new patient, you can expect to have a complete physical exam. You will also be asked detailed questions about your current problems and your past medical history, your current medications, allergies, your family history and other pertinent medical information. If you are taking medications, please bring a completed medical history form with you to your appointment. Once the physician has reviewed your medical information and completed the physical examination, a plan of care will be developed. You may need to be seen again in the office, be referred back to your family physician for follow-up care, or require additional testing. If additional tests are needed, we will assist you in scheduling these tests.
What if I need to schedule an endoscopic procedure?

An endoscopic procedure allows the physician to visualize a part of your gastrointestinal tract with a special instrument called an endoscope. If your family physician has ordered testing, you will be contacted by telephone by one of our staff members. If a physician orders testing and you are in the office, the procedure can generally be scheduled during the course of your visit. You will be given a date, time, and location for the test, as well as written instructions telling you how to prepare for the test. If you have any questions about the procedure, please feel free to ask one of our staff members or the physician.

How do I get test results?

We ask that you wait 10 to 14 days before contacting us for results. Often results come from several different sources. This information needs to be compiled and reviewed by your physician before you can be appropriately advised. 

What insurances do you accept?

We accept payment from most insurance companies including Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Blue Care Network, Physicians Health Plan, Cofinity, Sparrow Professional Health Network, Medicaid, McLaren, Health Plus, and several others. Accepted insurances are subject to change at any time without notice.

If your insurance requires an authorization from your primary care physician, you may be asked to assist us in obtaining this authorization.

All patients are responsible for all copays and deductibles at the time of service.

If you have any questions regarding your benefits or insurance coverage, please contact our Billing Department at 248-844-9710.

What if I need to contact the doctor?

To contact your doctor during business hours please call our main number 248-844-9710. If you have an urgent need to speak with the doctor after hours, you will be rerouted to our after hours answering service, and your doctor will be paged. In the case of a medical emergency please proceed directly to the nearest hospital emergency room.

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