Management of a Complex Peristomal Fistula: A Case Study : Journal of Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing

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Challenges in Practice

Management of a Complex Peristomal Fistula

A Case Study

Zhu, Li-Bo; Sun, Jia-nan; Cong, Yue; Wang, Ting; Hu, Jieman; Hu, Hai-yan

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Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing 48(1):p 76-78, January/February 2021. | DOI: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000729



We describe our experiences caring for a patient with a peristomal fistula (PF), characterized by suppuration from a peristomal abscess. The challenges associated with this case included management of a complex fistula and prevention of abdominal necrotizing fasciitis and peritonitis.


A 63-year-old man presented with severe peristomal swelling and pain resulting from an abscess adjacent to his ileostomy. He was malnourished and depressed. He underwent a low anterior resection (Dixon procedure) for rectal cancer 2 years ago and an abdominoperineal resection (Miles procedure) for the recurrence of rectal carcinoma 1 year later. In addition, he underwent bowel resection with the creation of an ileostomy due to intestinal obstruction caused by a second recurrence approximately 1 month prior to this admission. Following evaluation of the fistula anatomy, incision and drainage of the abscess was performed. Diversion of the effluent was used to control infection and promote fistula closure. A registered dietitian and a psychologist were consulted to optimize nutrition and treat his depression. After 20 days of treatment, the patient recovered and was safely discharged.


Peristomal fistula management should include anatomical assessment, incision and drainage of the abscess, diversion to control effluent, and skin protection. For complex cases, the coordinated efforts of the interdisciplinary team are imperative.

© 2021 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society

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