Socio-demographic and delivery characteristics of patients with obstetric fistula in Haut-Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of Congo

Document Type : Research/Original Article


1 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lubumbashi, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo

2 Department of Maternal and Child Health, Institut Supérieur des Techniques Médicales, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo,

3 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lubumbashi, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo.


Background: In developing countries, fistulae are generally caused by long obstructed labors. Obstetric fistula (OF) is a severe condition which can have devastating consequences for a woman’s life.
Objective: Describe the socio-demographic and delivery characteristics of patients with OF in Haut-Katanga province in the DRCongo.
Methods: This is a prospective descriptive study of 413 patients with OF in Haut-Katanga province during the period from September 2009 to December 2018.
Results: At fistula occurrence, 53.3% of patients were younger than 20 years (mean age: 21.3 ± 6.7 years) and 65.8% were primiparous. More than half had primary education and 39.7% were illiterate; 70.2% of the patients were separated or divorced. Fistula developed after delivery at home in 239 (57.9%) of 413 women. A total of 393 (95.2%) women developed fistula after vaginal delivery. A total of 387 (93.7%) of the 413 women reported that the fetus did not survive the labor during which fistula developed. 92.3% had a vesico-vaginal fistula and the mean age of fistula was 6.5 years. Surgical repair was successful in 82.9%.
Conclusion: Obstructed labor remains the most important cause of OF in Haut-Katanga. It is important to prevent OF arising from obstructive causes. The surgical treatment of OF will depend upon the type, size and location of fistula.


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