Fistulous Complications following Radical Cystectomy for Bladder Cancer: Analysis of a Large Modern Cohort

Zachary L. Smith, Scott C. Johnson, Shay Golan, J. Riley McGinnis, Gary D. Steinberg, Norm D. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: Fistula formation is a rare and poorly described complication following radical cystectomy with urinary diversion. We sought to identify patients who experienced any type of fistulous complication and we analyzed risk factors for formation as well as management outcomes. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of patients who underwent radical cystectomy for bladder cancer at our institution. Patients who experienced any fistula were identified. Risk factors, management strategies and outcomes were analyzed. Patients underwent initial conservative treatment and those in whom this treatment failed underwent surgical repair. Univariable and multivariable analyses were performed to identify predictors of fistula formation as well as the need for surgical repair. Results: Of the 1,041 patients 31 (3.0%) experienced fistula formation. Median time to fistula presentation was 31 days. Enterodiversion was the most common fistula type, noted in 54.8% of patients, followed by enterocutaneous and diversion cutaneous treatment in 29.0% and 12.9%, respectively. On multivariable analyses a history of radiation therapy (OR 3.1, p = 0.03) and an orthotopic neobladder (OR 3.1, p = 0.04) were predictors of fistula formation. Conservative management was successful in 41.9% of cases. There were no predictors of failed conservative management. Of patients who required surgical repair success was achieved in 94.4% at a single operation. Conclusions: Fistulas are rare after radical cystectomy and they are most common between the urinary diversion and the small bowel. A history of radiation therapy and a orthotopic neobladder are risk factors for formation. When required, surgical repair is generally successful at a single operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-668
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • cystectomy
  • risk factors
  • urinary bladder fistula
  • urinary bladder neoplasms
  • urinary diversion


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