Mucous Fistula: Excessive Discharge and Odor - Is it Normal?

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114angchris

Anyone have a mucous fistula also? Mine is permanent and every few months it discards some wax-type stuff. Recently it began spitting out a lot of gross, smelly mucus. Is this normal?

w30bob

Hi 114,

Yup.........that's pretty normal. They're not all that predictable and do just what you said. It's not mucus, though....it's pus, which is a protein-rich goop that forms wherever there's an infection. It's made up of dead white blood cells from your immune system, that sent them there in response to the infection that's ongoing inside your fistula. Your body isn't supposed to have that path leading to your bowels, so the skin inside the fistula gets infected from your output......that's not supposed to be there. Even if you get no real bowel output from your stoma the pathway is still there and the bad bacteria in your bowels travel through it...........and you get the never-ending infection. So the pus is your body's way of telling you it's dealing with it as best it can. Hope that helps!

;O)

Bob

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114angchris

Is it something I need to go in and get antibiotics for though?

Thanks for answering. Nothing at all online about this kind of fistula.

w30bob
Reply to 114angchris

Hi 114,

Good question. For the most part, once a fistula has formed, antibiotics can't touch it. They are used post-op to help prevent recurrence, but the data is pretty sketchy as to if it really has any effect on an active fistula. The only way I've heard to deal with a fistula is to open it up surgically and let it dry out. They'll describe it as filleting a fish, which is essentially what the surgeon does. Depending on location, some can be opened... and some can't. Easily. That's why they're so tough to deal with in the first place. Since the fistula isn't really under your skin, but like a tunnel through your skin, the antibiotics can't get to where they're needed. Now every doc is different, and some may prescribe an antibiotic regimen for a few weeks just because... but if anyone tells you antibiotics will cure it... they're either not very bright, or flat out lying to you. Also, it seems some of us are more prone to develop fistulas, although they don't know why. Spoiler alert... they don't know much.

So once you have one, it'll be part of what you have to deal with going forward for the rest of your life. Until Big Pharma gets off its ass or can figure out a way to make a lot of money off it. Research is ongoing, although I don't think a lot of effort goes into this area of medicine. Could be wrong. I'd suggest you talk to your gastro, and maybe a few others, and then determine what path you want to pursue. Live with it or intervene. Both choices have their gremlins. Just note that surgeons will recommend surgery... they've got a few houses and that yacht to pay for, and gastros may just recommend living with it.

;O)

Bob

114angchris

My fistula is a surgically created one. Ileostomy on one side and fistula on the other. Not enough gut left to ever reattach so been living with it since 2005. Technically, they never expected me to live this long with all my chronic conditions, but anyways, I just wondered why it suddenly started spitting LOTS of gooey mess in the past few days. It is smelly and gross, but I don't know if I should alert my gastro or if it's just expelling something I ate or what? No info on the web about it, so I reached out here.

 
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w30bob

Hi 114.........ah, now I get it.....you have a Mucous Fistula! I didn't read the Mucous part. But still, discharge like you describe is normal from a Mucous Fistula. The mucous in your unconnected bowel that the Mucous Fistula is connected to takes time to build up and then exit. So you should experience output in semi-random, but similar time intervals.....depending on how healthy your unconnected bowel is. And the output from any bowel-related fistula doesn't smell wonderful, but yours that takes time to reach the boiling point........will smell even worse...........so no issue there either. It shouldn't have anything to do with what you ate, as this fistula is basically a drain for your unconnected bowel. I'm not certain what determines the rate at which unconnected bowel generates mucous...........so you might want to ask your Gastro about that. But don't expect to specific an answer, as there's way more they don't know about our bowels than they do. Now if you see blood or the discharge doesn't stop.........you might be concerned. But the occasional discharge, while not pretty and smelling like roses, is what you have to look forward to!

But glad to hear you're beating the odds and staying alive. Doc's seem to underestimate the human will to survive quite often. Give 'em hell 114, and keep on keeping on!!

;O)

Bob

IGGIE

I don't get you guys, just go see your surgeon and get it removed permanently. I have only ever had one and had it removed.

w30bob

Hi Igster,

No, it's not that type of fistula. A Mucous Fistula is one the surgeon creates........not one that forms on its own. When your butt is sewn shut and your colon is disconnected and your small bowel exits through your ostomy......the colon is closed on both ends but still makes mucous. So there has to be a way to drain it out or it will eventually explode......causing instant sepsis and death. So they make a 'fistula' to allow the closed colon to 'vent' mucous when it needs to. So no fixing it........just living with it. I guess they could just remove the colon completely, but I don't know the specifics of this case. There must have been a reason to leave it in place. Hope that clears it up.

;O)

Bob

114angchris
Reply to w30bob

My fistula has never put out this much watery output before, which is why I'm concerned. The smell is gone, but I can feel it drain all of a sudden and have to hurry and change gauze bandage. I've heard of people needing another small pouch for theirs, but can't imagine that. It tends to happen first thing in the morning with my coffee, then stop, but like I said, I've had this situation since 2005 and it's never done this before. I had a CT scan on Monday of the full torso, and they didn't see anything out of place except I had a touch of pneumonia in my lungs. Maybe that infection is why? My gastro sent me in gut antibiotics, but I'm still on one for pneumonia right now. With CKD too, I have to be careful with meds.

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