Vesicovaginal fistula in Uganda

Fiona Katherine McCurdie*, Joanne Moffatt, Kevin Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Kitovu Hospital in Masaka, Uganda, is a leading obstetric fistula repair centre in the country with the highest rates of fistula in the world. In this retrospective case review, the regional incidence and causative factors were studied in patients with vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) who were admitted at Kitovu Hospital. Fistula history included severity (ICIQ score), causes and outcomes of VVF were measured. Women suffered with symptoms of VVF for an average of 4.97 years with an average ICIQ severity score of 7.21. Patients travelled an average distance of 153 km and the majority travelled by public transport. Rates of prolonged labour were high. 69% of fistula-causing delivery resulted in stillbirth and 12% resulted in early neonatal death. Following surgery, 94% of patients were dry on discharge.Impact statementWhat is already known on this subject? Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) is a severe, life-changing injury. Although largely eradicated from the Western world thanks to modern obstetric practice, VVF is still highly prevalent in developing countries where factors such as young childbearing age and poor access to emergency obstetric care increase the incidence (Wall et al. 2005). At the current rate of fistula repair, it is estimated that it would take 400 years to treat those already suffering with fistula, providing that no new cases emerged (Browning and Patel 2004).What do the results of this study add? The Ugandan women in this study reiterate tales of foetal loss, social isolation and epic journeys in search of fistula repair, as previously described in the literature. The study offers some hope for prompt help-seeking during labour and after fistulas are developed. It demonstrates the success of fistula repairs at Kitovu Hospital but highlights the paucity of service provision across Uganda.What are the implications of these findings for clinical practice and/or further research? Further epidemiological research is required to quantify the true burden of the disease. Only by raising the profile of VVF in both developing and developed countries, can there be a collaborative effort to make universal change. To embark upon the prevention and cure of the disease it is necessary to continue tackling issues of poverty and gender inequality.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Early online date9 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Mar 2018


  • fistula repair
  • incontinence
  • maternal morbidity
  • obstetric fistula
  • Obstructed labour
  • vesicovaginal fistula


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