About Obstetric Fistula

An estimated 3.5 million women in LMICs suffer from untreated obstetrical fistula.

Obstetric Fistula: A Common Problem

Obstetric fistulas are a common affliction of pregnant women in the developing world who deliver their babies with no medical help. Most are young girls. After suffering many days of obstructed labor, the infant finally passes — dead. But this nightmare is only beginning.

The internal pressure caused by the baby’s head pushing against the woman’s pelvis causes the tissues to breakdown. This breakdown of tissues creates a hole between the birth passage and internal organs, such as the bladder or rectum. As a result, the woman is unable to hold her urine or bowel contents, causing constant leaking.

The social consequences are equally devastating. The woman is often rejected by her partner and family because of wetness, foul smell and inability to bear more children. Employment is denied and many will live and die homeless.

Obstetrical fistula does not occur in the United States due to the availability of routine medical care and trained doctors. However millions of women in developing countries suffer from this devastating condition. Because physicians and surgeons in developing regions have little or no experience with, and are completely untrained in fistula repair, there is an the enormous backlog of cases. Sadly, most cases are left un-repaired.

But there is hope. Medical Simulation International intends to make surgical training universally accessible to all healthcare providers.

fistula location diagram

A fistula is a hole between any internal organ and the outside that should not exist.

Women in poor countries suffer from fistula as a result of labor complications which lead to incontinence.