What Are Some Common Symptoms of a Fistula Between the Bowel and the Bladder?

A bladder fistula located between the bowel and bladder can cause urine that smells like feces or looks like it, according to the Urology Care Foundation. Someone with this type of fistula, called an enterovesical fistula, may also pass gas through his urethra while peeing. Sometimes an enterovesical fistula can cause chronic urinary tract infections.

Medical disease, such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis, commonly cause enterovesical fistulas, explains the Urology Care Foundation. Bowel cancer causes approximately one out of five fistulas between the bowel and bladder. An injury or surgery on the bladder is also a rare cause of bladder fistulas.

A doctor uses a pelvic X-ray or computerized tomography scan with contrast of the bladder to diagnose an enterovesical fistula, notes the Urology Care Foundation. In some cases, the doctor may also use a long, thin tube that contains a telescope, called a cystoscope, to see inside the bladder to make a diagnosis.

Surgery to repair an enterovesical fistula is the preferred treatment, reports the Urology Care Foundation. The surgeon removes the damaged tissue in the bladder and moves the healthy tissue within the bladder to block the opening between the bladder and bowel. Surgery can also treat certain underlying conditions that caused the fistula, such as cancer or an inflammatory disease, as long as there is enough healthy tissue within the bladder.