Having feces leak from your intestines into other areas of your body sounds like something out of your worst nightmare, but unfortunately it can really happen.
A new case report published in the New England Journal of Medicine tells us a 72-year-old woman went to the doctor complaining of gassy bubbles in her urine. It turned out, fecal matter was leaking out of her intestines into her bladder. Yep, you read that right.
The woman had recently been treated for a urinary tract infection as well as a condition called diverticulitis, which occurs when part of the intestine is inflamed or infected. Doctors found the fecal matter was leaking through a colovesical fistula, or an opening between the colon and the bladder, which they believe was caused by the diverticulitis.
Doctors examined the woman’s bladder by performing a cystoscopy, when a tube equipped with a lens is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder, and captured a particularly gross video. You can see soft yellow feces leaking into the fluid of the bladder through a small hole. (Excuse us while we try to hold down our lunch.)
Colovesical fistulas are very uncommon, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Gastroenterology Research and Practice. Symptoms include bubbles, feces, or blood in the urine as well as painful urination. Diverticulitis is one of the most common causes, but they can also be caused by colorectal cancer (or cancer of other surrounding organs), inflammatory bowel disease (particularly Crohn’s), and surgery that involves the colon or bladder.
This type of fistula is treatable, but because it’s so unusual, there’s a limited amount of research on how to best treat the condition. In this case, the woman underwent surgery to close the gap and remove part of her colon. At her two-month follow-up, she was completely recovered and had no recurring symptoms.
Leaking feces might be a nightmare come to life, but hopefully we can all sleep a little easier knowing it is in fact treatable.
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