Management of radiotherapy induced rectourethral fistula

Brian R. Lane, David E. Stein, Feza H. Remzi, Scott A. Strong, Victor W. Fazio, Kenneth W. Angermeier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Purpose: An increasing number of men are being treated with BT or a combination of external beam radiation therapy and BT for localized prostate cancer. Although uncommon, the most severe complication following these procedures is RUF. We reviewed our recent experience with RUF following radiotherapy for prostate cancer to clarify treatment in these patients. Materials and Methods: We recently treated 22 men with RUF following primary radiotherapy for adenocarcinoma of the prostate in 21 and adjuvant external beam radiation therapy following radical prostatectomy in 1. Time from the last radiation treatment to fistula presentation was 6 months to 20 years. Results: Four patients underwent proctectomy with permanent fecal and urinary diversion. RUF repair in 5 patients was performed with preservation of fecal or urinary function. Six patients were candidates for reconstruction with preservation of urinary and rectal function, including 5 who underwent proctectomy, staged colo-anal pull-through and BMG repair of the urethral defect. The additional patient underwent primary closure of the rectum, BMG repair of the urethra and gracilis muscle interposition. Successful fistula closure was achieved in the 9 patients who underwent urethral reconstruction. All 8 candidates for rectal reconstruction showed radiological and clinical bowel integrity postoperatively with 2 awaiting final diverting stoma closure. Conclusions: With the increasing use of prostate BT the number of patients with severe rectal injury will likely continue to increase. Radiotherapy induced RUF carries significant morbidity and most patients are treated initially with fecal and urinary diversion. In properly selected patients good outcomes can be expected following repair using BMG for the urethral defect along with colo-anal pull-through or primary rectal repair and gracilis muscle interposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1382-1388
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Complications
  • Prostatic neoplasms
  • Radiotherapy
  • Rectal fistula
  • Urethra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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