A fistula is defined as an abnormal connection or passageway between two epithelial lined organs. Fistulas may be idiopathic, the result of a disease process, secondary to radiation, or may occur after a previous surgery.
Fistulas may involve multiple parts of the genitourinary system, but most commonly are associated with the ureter, bladder, prostate or urethra. Organs outside of the genitourinary system commonly involved in a fistula include the small intestine, colon, rectum, female reproductive organs, or the skin.
Repair of a fistula tract involving the genitourinary system is a complex surgery that is generally done at tertiary care referral centers, like UCSF, where the surgeons have significant experience in the different reconstructive techniques necessary for successful outcomes.