Primary aorto/iliac-enteric fistula: Report of 6 new cases

D. Kirk Lawlor, G. DeRose, K. A. Harris, T. L. Forbes

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22 Scopus citations


The management of patients with vascular-enteric fistulas remains a challenging diagnostic and therapeutic problem for the vascular surgeon. Although fortunately quite a rare cause of gastrointestinal bleeding, reported mortality and amputation rates are very high. Fistulas between major vascular structures and the gastrointestinal tract are classified as either primary or secondary. Primary fistulas occur most commonly between an aortic aneurysm and the distal duodenum, while secondary fistulas occur following erosion of prosthetic material into the bowel following aortic reconstruction. The authors report 6 new cases of primary aortoenteric fistula: A malignant aortoenteric fistula in a patient with advanced metastatic squamous cell carcinoma involving the infrarenal aorta and duodenum, 4 cases of primary aortoenteric fistulas in patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms, and 1 iliac-enteric fistula secondary to a common iliac aneurysm. The diagnosis is often difficult to make, and although it was considered in 4 patients preoperatively, the diagnosis was not made until the time of laparotomy in all of these patients. Three patients were treated with an in-situ vascular graft, 2 others had the distal abdominal aorta oversewn and axillobilateral femoral bypass performed, and in the case involving the malignancy, the patient underwent primary aortic repair owing to the extent of the tumor process prohibiting aortic reconstruction. Three patients had primary closure of the intestine performed, and 3 required bowel resection and primary anastomosis. The overall 30-day mortality rate was 50% as 3 patients died in the early postoperative period and the remaining 3 patients survived to be discharged from hospital. One patient (17%) required bilateral above-knee amputations. Treatment of patients with vascular-enteric fistulas is a difficult problem, often associated with delayed diagnosis and high morbidity and mortality rates. Successful surgical management can be achieved with primary closure of the intestinal tract and an in-situ vascular graft or extraanatomic bypass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-286
Number of pages6
JournalVascular and Endovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


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