Management of enteroatmospheric fistula: A ten-year experience following fifteen years of learning

Published:January 16, 2023DOI:



      Enteroatmospheric fistulas are a serious complication of Open Abdomen. The goal of this study was to present the strategy and results of enteroatmospheric fistulas treatment during the last 10 years, after a long learning period.


      Seventy-seven patients with enteroatmospheric fistulas were treated and the data recorded between 2012 and 2021. For local treatment, 3 negative pressure methods were used, according to the wound characteristics. The results of conservative and surgical treatments were retrospectively identified and described, including nutritional recovery, morbidity and mortality. Predictors of spontaneous closure, as well as risk factors for the fistula’s recurrence and mortality were analyzed.


      Nutritional and clinical recovery was achieved in 66 patients (85.7%). Fourteen patients (18%) were healed without surgery after a median of 57 days (range 35–426 days). Unique lesions (13/46; P = .02, OR 10.23), initial output ≤700 mL/day (9/28; P = .0035, OR 3.79) and deep fistulas (9/12; P = .00001, OR 33.6) were encountered and acknowledged to be as spontaneous closure factors. Fifty-six patients (72.7%) required reconstructive surgery of the intestinal tract after a median of 187 days since last laparotomy (range: 63–455 days). There were 9 postoperative recurrences (16%), 5 of them closed with conservative treatment. No significant risk factors for recurrence nor postoperative mortality were found. Fistula complete closure was achieved in 63 of the 77 patients studied (81.8%), and 7 patients died (9%).


      The combination of 3 vacuum methods used for enteroatmospheric fistula management was effective. Spontaneous closure of an enteroatmospheric fistula is unlikely but feasible when lesions are single, deep, with limited output, and when intestinal continuity is preserved. Surgical indications are well defined, although mortality and recurrence rates are still high.
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