Women with obstetric fistula in Ethiopia: a 6-month follow up after surgical treatment


A Browning, Medical Director, Barhirdar Hamlin Fistula Centre, PO Box 1739, Barhirdar, Ethiopia. E-mail andrew_browning@hotmail.com


Objective  To quantify surgical and quality of life outcomes 6 months after obstetric fistula repair.

Design  A prospective study. Women were examined and questioned at discharge and at follow-up appointment.

Setting  The Barhirdar Hamlin Fistula Centre, a dedicated unit treating women with obstetric fistula in northern Ethiopia.

Population  All women admitted to the Barhirdar Hamlin Fistula Centre suffering from vesicovaginal (WF) and rectovaginal fistulae (RVF).

Methods  All women were asked to return for a follow-up appointment 6 months after surgical treatment. A standardised questionnaire and examination were used and information entered into a database.

Main outcomes measures  Urinary and anal continence status; extent of return to previous family situation, employment, social activities and reproductive capabilities.

Results  Continence status at discharge was largely maintained at 6 months and quality of life was improved. Many of those incontinent on discharge improved; a small number apparently cured at discharge had later recurrence of incontinence.

Conclusions  Surgical treatment for obstetric fistula is successful in maintaining continence and improving quality of life of women at 6-months follow up.