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Primary aorto-enteric fistula: a diagnosis not to be missed
  1. Sanjin Bajgoric1,
  2. Harjinder Sahota2,
  3. Christopher Day3,
  4. Sriram Rajagopalan4,
  5. Arun Pherwani4
  1. 1Gastroenterology Department, Royal Stoke University Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  2. 2Medicine Division, Walsall Manor Hospital, Walsall, UK
  3. 3Radiology Department, Royal Stoke University Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  4. 4Vascular Surgery Department, Royal Stoke University Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sanjin Bajgoric, Gastroenterology Department, Royal Stoke University Hospital, 11a St Christopher's Avenue, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST4 5NA, UK; sanjinbajgoric{at}

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Aorto-enteric fistula (AEF) is a rare condition caused by an abnormal connection between the aorta and the intestinal tract. This often results in fatal upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB) with an untreated mortality rate of 100%.1 Of the two types of AEF, primary and secondary, the latter is more common and occurs following aortic surgery. The majority of primary AEF (PAEF) are due to spontaneous erosion of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) into the distal portion of the duodenum. These are extremely rare with an incidence of 0.07%.2 Other causes of PAEF include: infection, tumour, radiotherapy or foreign body ingestion. A high index of suspicion is required in symptomatic patients with a known AAA or recent abdominal aortic surgery to facilitate prompt diagnosis and intervention.

Case history

An elderly man known to have a 3.8 cm AAA presented to the surgical team with lower abdominal pain radiating to his back. His vital signs were …

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  • Contributors SB and HS were responsible for drafting the paper and the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data for the work. SR and AP were responsible for the conception of the work and its critical revision. CD was responsible for the substantial acquisition of data and the article’s critical revision. All the authors gave final approval for the work to be published and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.