A fistula is an abnormal connection that develops between two separate organs or areas inside the body. Fistulas can form during the healing phase after an injury or a previous surgery. They can also develop as a side effect of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, diverticulitis, and radiation. They can appear in a variety of areas, including between the intestine and the skin or between an artery and a vein. Some fistulas heal and disappear without intervention, but others require surgical repair and wound care treatment.
External fistulas cause discharge through the skin, and are usually accompanied by abdominal pain, bowel obstruction, and fever. Internal fistulas may cause diarrhea, rectal bleeding, dehydration, a bloodstream infection, or sepsis, a medical emergency where the body has a severe response to infection.
“Fistulas are classified based on the amount of drainage, or output, they create,” said Cecilia Yanez, RN, BSN, CWOCN, a Wound Care Clinician with 21 years of experience at RML Specialty Hospital. “The typical treatment for patients with fistulas involves containing the drainage and maintaining skin health, with the use of various pouches and negative pressure therapy. Managing sepsis, nutrition, and electrolyte balance is very important with these patients.”
Yanez is proud of the exceptional work that RML Specialty Hospital provides to fistula patients. “We have many experienced CWOCNs (Certified Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses) who have received the proper education and training, and have an excellent understanding of the physiological condition of this type of patient,” she explained. “RML also has a terrific interdisciplinary group of specialists, including physicians, dietitians, and pharmacy and wound care nurses who collaborate for the best outcomes possible.”
Yanez cares for patients with various types of wounds and fistulas. “I love helping patients and their families from every walk of life, and assisting them with the various challenging and complex issues they face,” she said. “I take pride in my work, and love working for RML.”
Written by Denise Freese
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