PURPOSE: This study relates our experience with local surgical management of perianal Crohn's disease.
METHOD: Of 1,735 patients with Crohn's disease seen between 1980 and 1990, records of 66 patients (3.8 percent) with symptomatic perianal Crohn's disease treated by local operations were retrospectively reviewed to study outcome of local surgical intervention.
RESULTS: All patients had intestinal disease that was limited to the colon in 32 patients (48 percent), ileocolonic region in 22 patients (33 percent), and ileum in 12 patients (18 percent). Types of perianal disease encountered included perianal suppuration (57), anal fistula (47), anal fissure (21), anal stenosis (5), gluteal abscess (3), scrotal abscess (2), and anovaginal fistula (2). A total of 321 episodes of anal complications necessitated 256 local surgical interventions. Local anorectal operations performed included simple incision and drainage of abscess (57), fistulotomy (35), incision and drainage of complex anorectal abscesses and fistulas and insertion of seton (24), internal sphincterotomy (6), fissurectomy (1), and anal dilation (3). Of 24 patients with horseshoe abscesses and fistulas managed with insertion of a seton and 35 patients who underwent fistulotomy as a primary procedure or in conjunction with drainage of an abscess, none experienced fecal incontinence as a direct result of the operation. Thirteen patients required proctectomy to control perianal disease, and a similar number underwent total proctocolectomy for extensive intestinal disease. Forty patients (61 percent) continue to retain a functional anus.
CONCLUSION: Patients with symptomatic low anal fistula involving minimum sphincter musculature can be treated safely with fistulotomy. In treatment of patients with horseshoe abscesses and high fistulas, aggressive local surgical intervention using a seton permits preservation of the sphincter and good postoperative function.
(C) The ASCRS 1996