Vesicovaginal fistulas—vault fistulas as they are called when located at the vaginal apex following total hysterectomy—are rare lesions that are located on the anterior vaginal wall just in front of the transverse vaginal scar made when the cervix is removed. Latzko, in 1942, described a technique of treating vault fistulas solely through a vaginal approach. A vault colpocleisis is performed without attempting to dissect the fistulous tract. Although this is an effective and relatively simple procedure, there is as yet no consensus on first-line treatment of these lesions. The authors report the results of the Latzko procedure in 11 women with a mean age of 50 years who had a postoperative vesicovaginal fistula. All but one of the fistulas followed total hysterectomy. The mean interval between primary surgery and a fistula was just short of 2 weeks. Urethral bladder drainage for 5–8 days did not prevent a fistula from forming in these patients.
Urinary drainage was maintained for at least 6 weeks before surgical repair. The fistula was drawn downward using a balloon catheter placed in its opening and was then circumcised 1.5 to 2 cm from the opening. All epithelium from the circumcised area to the edge of the fistula's opening was removed before approximating the anterior and posterior vaginal walls using interrupted absorbable sutures. The vaginal mucosa then was closed by a second layer of sutures. The bladder was drained with a Foley catheter until the cystogram was normal.
The Latzko procedure succeeded in all cases as evidenced by the absence of urine loss during a bladder tightness test 1 month postoperatively. There were no intraoperative complications, and the only postoperative problem was a lower urinary tract infection. The patients were followed for a mean of 19 months after repair. These results show that the Latzko procedure is a safe, technically simple, and effective means of treating vault vesicovaginal fistulas. The investigators recommend it as the most appropriate first-line surgical treatment.