High output enterocutaneous fistula: a literature review and a case study

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2012;21(3):464-9.


An enterocutaneous (EC) fistula is referred to as a channel between the gut and the skin. Effluent of an EC fistula of more than 500 ml per day is considered as high output. Patients with high output EC fistulae have a high morbidity and mortality rate. No evidence-based guidelines are available for this condition and more research is required to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. Nevertheless, patients with fistulae should be managed based on the available evidence, detailed clinical and nutrition assessment, and close monitoring. Management of high output EC fistula is complex and challenging. It involves nutrition, medical, skin care and psychological treatment, which is best managed by a multidisciplinary team. It requires an individualized nutrition and clinical treatment plan to maximize patient outcomes. Up to 70% of patients with fistulae have malnutrition and it is a significant prognostic factor of spontaneous fistula closure. Nutrition therapies including macronutrient and micronutrient delivery, enteral nutrition and parenteral nutrition are discussed in this review. A case study of a patient with multiple EC fistulae is presented to illustrate the management of high output EC fistulae.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Fistula / physiopathology*
  • Intestinal Fistula / surgery
  • Intestinal Fistula / therapy*
  • Intraabdominal Infections / drug therapy
  • Parenteral Nutrition
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy
  • Sepsis / drug therapy
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents