Does fecal diversion offer any chance for spontaneous closure of the radiation-induced rectovaginal fistula?


Janusz H. Piekarski, MD, PhD, Department of Surgical Oncology, Medical University of Lodz, Ul. Paderewskiego 4, 93-509 Lodz, Poland. Email:


Analysis of the clinical course of patients with postirradiation rectovaginal fistula after fecal diversion. The studied group included 17 women with postirradiation rectovaginal fistula who underwent fecal diversion as a sole mode of treatment, between January 1987 and December 2002, in our department. All patients were subjected to radiotherapy due to cancer of the uterine cervix, administered 5–107 months before the fistula appearance (mean, 22.9 months). In 3 of 17 patients (18%), spontaneous closure of fistula was observed after 5, 6, and 9 months, respectively, from fecal diversion. Closure was confirmed by endoscopy. Length of follow-up after fecal diversion ranged from 0.5 to 122 months. The actuarial probability of spontaneous closure of postradiotherapy rectovaginal fistula was 0.24 at 9 months of follow-up and then remained stable thereafter. In conclusion, colostomy alone gives hardly a chance for closure of the postradiotherapy rectovaginal fistula. Additional surgical measures are necessary.