A fistulagram is a type of X-ray imaging that is used to diagnose and evaluate the severity of a fistula. A fistula is an abnormal connection between two organs or tissues that should not be connected. Fistulae can occur in different parts of the body, but the most common ones are in the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract and reproductive organs. A Fistulagram is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to visualize the fistula and determine the best course of treatment. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about fistulagrams, including how they are performed, what to expect during the procedure, and potential complications.
How is a Fistulagram Performed?
A Fistulagram is usually performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you can go home the same day. The procedure takes about an hour to complete, and here’s what you can expect:
- You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and lie on an X-ray table.
- You will be given a mild sedative to help you relax, but you will remain awake during the procedure.
- A radiologist will numb the area around the fistula with a local anesthetic.
- A thin, flexible tube called a catheter will be inserted into the fistula or the opening of the fistula.
- A contrast material (dye) will be injected into the catheter, which will make the fistula visible on X-ray images.
- The radiologist will take X-ray images from different angles to get a clear picture of the fistula.
Why is a Fistulagram Required?
A Fistulagram is needed to diagnose and evaluate the severity of a fistula, which can cause a range of symptoms such as:
- Drainage of pus or other fluids
- Redness and tenderness around the site of the fistula
- Recurrent infections
The images produced by a Fistulagram can help doctors determine the location, size, and shape of the fistula, as well as identify any underlying causes. This information is critical for developing a treatment plan that addresses the root cause of the fistula and helps prevent complications.
What are the Risks of a Fistulagram?
While a Fistulagram is considered a safe and minimally invasive procedure, it carries some risks such as:
- Allergic reactions to the contrast material
- Discomfort or pain during the procedure
- Damage to surrounding tissues or organs
Your doctor will discuss the potential risks with you before the procedure and answer any questions you may have.
What Happens After a Fistulagram?
After a Fistulagram, you will be asked to rest for a short period until the sedative wears off. You will then be able to go home, but you will need someone to drive you. It is normal to experience some discomfort or mild pain at the site of the fistula, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. Your doctor will discuss the results of the procedure with you and develop a treatment plan based on your individual needs.
A Fistulagram is a valuable diagnostic tool for evaluating and treating fistulae. This minimally invasive procedure helps doctors visualize the fistula and determine the best course of treatment, which may include medications, surgery, or other interventions. While a Fistulagram is generally considered safe, it carries some risks, and your doctor will discuss these with you and answer any questions you may have.
What is a Fistulagram?
A Fistulagram is a type of X-ray imaging that is used to diagnose and evaluate the severity of a fistula. A fistula is an abnormal connection between two organs or tissues.
What are the Symptoms of a Fistula?
Fistulae can cause a range of symptoms such as pain, drainage of pus or other fluids, swelling, redness and tenderness around the site of the fistula and recurrent infections.
What Happens During a Fistulagram?
A radiologist inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into the fistula or the opening of the fistula. A contrast material (dye) will be injected into the catheter, which will make the fistula visible on X-ray images. The radiologist will take X-ray images from different angles to get a clear picture of the fistula.
What are the Risks of a Fistulagram?
While a Fistulagram is considered a safe and minimally invasive procedure, it can cause infection, bleeding, allergic reactions to the contrast material, discomfort, pain or even damage to surrounding tissues or organs.
What Happens After a Fistulagram?
After a Fistulagram, patients will be able to return home but need someone to drive them. It is normal to experience some discomfort or mild pain at the site of the fistula, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. The doctor will discuss the results of the procedure and develop a treatment plan based on the patient’s individual needs.
What Treatments are Available for Fistulae?
The treatment for a fistula depends on the location, size, and severity of the fistula. Treatment options include medications, surgery or other interventions.
Are Fistulagrams Covered by Insurance?
Most health insurance plans do cover Fistulagrams if they are medically necessary.
How Long Does a Fistulagram Take?
A Fistulagram takes about an hour to complete.
Do I Need to Do Anything to Prepare for a Fistulagram?
Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions on how to prepare for a Fistulagram, including what medications to stop taking before the procedure, fasting requirements, and any other special instructions.
Can I Drive After a Fistulagram?
Patients should not drive for several hours after a Fistulagram as the sedative can impair their ability to drive safely.
What Should I Do If I Experience Complications After a Fistulagram?
If you experience any complications after a Fistulagram, such as severe pain, bleeding, or infection, contact your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical attention.
What Should I Expect During a Follow-up Appointment?
Your doctor will discuss the results of the Fistulagram and develop a treatment plan based on your individual needs. Follow-up appointments may be needed to monitor progress and adjust treatment as necessary.
How Often Do I Need a Fistulagram?
The frequency of Fistulagrams depends on the individual’s condition and the severity of the fistula. Your doctor will discuss the recommended schedule for follow-up imaging and treatment.
What Happens if a Fistula is Left Untreated?
If left untreated, a fistula can cause serious complications such as chronic infection, sepsis, and organ damage.
Are There Any Alternative Imaging Tests for Fistulae?
Other imaging tests that may be used to diagnose and evaluate fistulae include CT scans, MRI, and ultrasound.
Can I Tolerate a Fistulagram Without Sedation?
A Fistulagram is generally performed with mild sedation to help patients relax and reduce discomfort. However, some patients may tolerate the procedure without sedation, and this can be discussed with their doctor.
Do I Need a Referral for a Fistulagram?
Most patients will need a referral from their primary care physician or specialist to have a Fistulagram.
1. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Fistula. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fistula/symptoms-causes/syc-20352776.
2. RadiologyInfo.org. (2018). Fistulagram. https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=fistulagram.
3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2021). Fistulas. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/surgery/specialty-areas/colon-rectal/fistula.html.
4. American College of Radiology. (n.d.). Fistulagram. https://www.acr.org/Clinical-Resources/Radiology-Safety/MR-Contrast-Media/Fistulagram.