A fistulogram is a medical procedure used to examine the size and shape of a fistula(1,2). Fistulas are abnormal communication between two or more passageways in the body. Fistulas usually involve hollow organs like the vagina, bladder, colon, or rectum.
They may be present between two loops of the intestine, between vagina and bladder, between vagina and rectum, between anus and skin surrounding the anus, etc. They may be formed as a result of injuries, infections, or surgeries.
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How is Fistulogram taken?
Fistulogram is taken with the help of an x-ray machine and contrast material. Fluoroscopy converts the x-ray beam to images that are projected on the monitor.
Before the procedure, you will need to take off the clothing and wear a gown. The physician will ask you about any medication you are using or allergies you are suffering from.
Women should always tell the healthcare providers if they’re pregnant or suspect to be as radiation are harmful to the fetus. Then the physician will take precautions to minimize radiation exposure to the fetus. During the procedure:
You will lie on a radiographic table. Physicians may inject an intravenous line to inject any required fluid into medicines.
The healthcare team will clean the area around the fistula with an antiseptic solution to avoid the risk of infection. Local anesthesia may be used to numb the area surrounding the fistula.
The healthcare provider will insert the catheter into the fistula under x-ray guidance.
When the catheter reaches the desired spot, contrast material is injected that helps to take images of the fistula. You experience discomfort at this point.
You will be advised to hold your breath and stay still for a few seconds while taking the images; otherwise, images may get blurred.
After taking the images, the catheter is removed, and the insertion site is closed with the help of dressing.
How it feels during and after the procedure:
If the fistula is located inside your rectum or vagina, you can use the bathroom after the procedure to wash away the remnants of contrast material.
You may experience a little discomfort while taking a fistulogram; however, the process is painless. It takes about 30 minutes to take a fistulogram.
The physician will advise you to abstain from some activities after the procedure, like lifting heavy weights, performing heavy exercises or driving, etc., for 24 hours. After that, you can return to your normal daily activities.
Vascular Health specializes in fistulas’ management and vascular care. To consult with our experts, book an appointment now!
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