Ureter-Iliac Artery Fistulas



J Vasc Surg. 2012 Apr;55(4):1072-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2011.11.043. Epub 2012 Feb 10.

Evolution from open surgical to endovascular treatment of ureteral-iliac artery fistula.


Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.



To review the indications and results of open surgical and endovascular treatment for ureteral-iliac artery fistula (UIAF).


We reviewed the clinical data of 20 consecutive patients treated for 21 UIAFs between 1996 and 2010. Since 2004, iliac artery stent grafts were the primary treatment except for complex fistulas with enteric contamination or abscess. Endpoints were early morbidity and mortality, patient survival, vessel or graft patency, freedom from vascular or stent graft/graft infection, and freedom from recurrent bleeding.


There were 20 patients, 15 females, and five males, with mean age of 63 ±13 years. Predisposing factors for UIAF were prior tumor resection in 18 patients, radiation in 15, ureteral stents in 15, ileal conduits in four, and ileofemoral grafts in three. All patients presented with hematuria, which was massive in 10. Treatment included iliac stent grafts in 11 patients/12 fistulas (55%), with internal iliac artery (IAA) exclusion in nine, femoral crossover graft with IAA exclusion in five, direct arterial repair in three, and ureteral exclusion with percutaneous nephrostomy and no arterial repair in one. There were no early deaths. Five of eight patients treated by open surgical repair developed complications, which included enterocutaneous fistula in three and superficial wound infection in two. Four patients (36%) treated by iliac stent grafts had complications, including pneumonia, non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, buttock claudication, and early stent occlusion in one each. After a median follow-up of 26 months, no one had recurrent massive hematuria, but minor bleeding was reported in three. Patient survival at 5 years was 42% compared with 93% for the general population (P < .001). Freedom from any recurrent bleeding at 3 years was 76%. In the stent graft group, primary and secondary patency rates and freedom from stent graft infection at 3 years were 81%, 92%, and 100%.


UIAF is a rare complication associated with prior tumor resection, radiation, and indwelling ureteral stents. In select patients without enteric communication or abscess, iliac artery stent grafts are safe and effective treatment, and carry a low risk of recurrent massive hematuria or stent graft infection on early follow-up. Direct surgical repair carries a high risk of enterocutaneous fistula.

Published by Mosby, Inc.

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