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All About Fistulogram: Fistula Screening!

Did your doctor prescribe a fistulogram test, and you are here surfing the net to know what it is and how it works? Your search is over!

Here goes an all-about note on fistulogram, where you can learn about the uses, preparation, procedure, and post-diagnostic requisites of a fistulogram.

Overview: What Is A Fistulogram?

Do you know what a fistula is? It is nothing; but an abnormal passageway between two of your body part, maybe like an organ and a blood vessel. Perhaps, it can form between –

  1. Arteries and veins,
  2. Skin surface and bile ducts,
  3. Neck and throat,
  4. Bowel and vagina,
  5. Cervix and vagina,
  6. Stomach and skin,
  7. Skull and the nasal sinus,
  8. Navel and gut, and so forth!

The imaging study that can screen such a fistula formation in your body is, what we call, Fistulogram. The scanning technique is typically like an X-ray procedure. It involves the intravenous administration of radio-opaque contrast.

Fistulogram is a minimally-invasive, painless test that takes place outpatient, in radiology labs, like any other imaging study. They can offer real-time images for us to get an immediate evaluation.

Common Uses of Fistulogram!

The main use of a fistulogram is to look for fistulas, assess their size, shape, and other characteristics, and subsequently prepare an appropriate treatment plan. Fistulas are common in hollow organs like the bowel, urinary bladder, vagina, anus, etc.

A fistulogram can show your doctor whether this abnormal passageway appears due to an infection or inflammation arising from surgery, injury, or radiation therapy; maybe!

Fistulograms tell you whether the fistula developed from an inflammatory bowel condition, such as ulcerative colitis.

In the case of anal fistulas, infections in the gland right inside your anus lead to the formation of pus, and this pus or abscess travels to the skin and pours out, leaving behind this passageway. Doctors tend to use fistulogram to measure this abscess collection after drainage and understand whether this collection has a communication channel with other body structures.

Doctors also see the external and internal openings of the fistulas via a fistulogram before pursuing surgery.

How To Prepare For Fistulogram?

There isn’t anything complex in preparing for a  fistulogram if you follow the checklist given below!

  1. You need a few blood tests to check the potassium level in your body. Please make sure you get them done at least seven days before the fistulogram appointment!
  2. You may have to stop eating at least four to eight hours before the fistulogram study. Follow what your healthcare providers say!
  3. You may have to stop taking your daily medications for a preexisting disease, like asthma, diabetes, or any heart problem. No over-the-counter aspirin containing painkillers too!
  4. Your scan may be contrast-enhanced, meaning; it may involve injecting dye into your body to get better image clarity. So, make sure you discuss it with the healthcare providers if you have any allergies.
  5. If the healthcare providers ask you to carry any medicine, do so!

What To Expect During A Fistulogram?

As a first-timer to this fistulogram scan, you are likely to be in anticipation. But, I must say, there is nothing to fear about. The test is simple and takes around 20 minutes to 30 minutes approximately.

On the day of the scan, make sure you reach the diagnostic center at least one hour between the stipulated time slot and report at the reception.

  • They may give you a gown to wear. Do so!
  • Next, they shall ask you to sign a consent form. Please read it thoroughly before you sign.

During the scan, a radiologist comes into action alongside a technician and a  staff. They shall ask you to enter the test lab, where you shall see the X-ray machine, with a moveable bed or table attached in front.


  • You have to lie on that table. The radiologist may ask you to lie in a specific position. Follow as said!
  • You may need oxygen and medicine to stay calm and relaxed. The nurse will assist!
  • The radiologist shall place your graft arm or fistula over a table, clean it, and inject medicine (sedatives) to numb the area. This time you may have slight pain as the intravenous injection gets it!
  • Then comes the step of contrast administration. Herein, the radiologist has to put the water-soluble contrast dye into your fistula. For this purpose, they use a catheter (or thin and flexible pipe), which is somewhat like the needle used for kidney dialysis.
  • Once the scan starts, this table shall go front and back for the tube-like X-ray machine to scan you through. The scanner is already connected to the monitor and ready to offer visuals of your fistula.
  • The X-rays shall hereafter detect and screen how and where the contract goes. The radiologist can now see the fistula imaging. They may ask you to hold your breath a couple of times when you move back and front; through the scanner. Follow!

When the radiologist gets the X-ray imaging, the healthcare providers shall remove the catheter and ask you to get up slowly from the table and leave the lab space for the next patient.

Furthermore, they may take you to the medical daycare unit, where you have to stay in observation for one or two hours and rest before getting discharged.

Are There Any Risks?


X-ray procedures do have the risk of radiation exposure, which may lead to –

  • Cancers,
  • Kidney damage,
  • Kidney failure, and
  • Heart problems.

A fistulogram X-ray may bring these complications, though the chances are low! Besides, the catheter insertion may hurt a muscle, organ, or tissue if not done via expert hands.

The contrast material may trigger a few temporary side effects, such as –

  • Skin rashes, redness, or itchiness,
  • Hives,
  • Nausea,
  • Fatigue,
  • Headache, and
  • Fever.

But these are not worrisome as they leave when the dye leaves your body!



Can you now make an idea of how your fistulogram scan would seem? I hope this blog has served the purpose of easing you out of your apprehension and fears. However, I would like to add one final piece of advice – To not go for the scan alone and take someone you can trust!

For more queries and online doctor’s consultations on fistulogram, feel free to message us at [email protected].

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About author
Hi, I am Alka Tiwari, Founder & Patient Care Executive at Helping you get the diagnostics scans services like MRI, CT Scan, UltraSound & PET Scan, etc at the best price. At MRIChandigarh's blog, I will be writing to create awareness and to educate you about how and where to get diagnostic scans done in Chandigarh at the best price with best-in-class services.
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