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Management and Outcome of Pouch-Vaginal Fistulas Following Restorative Proctocolectomy

Heriot Alexander G. M.D.; Tekkis, Paris P. M.D.; Smith, Jason J. M.D.; Bona, Roberto M.D.; Cohen, Richard G. M.D.; Nicholls, John R. M.Chir.
Diseases of the Colon & Rectum: March 2005
doi: 10.1007/s10350-004-0902-7
Management and Outcome of Pouch-Vaginal Fistulas Following Restorative Proctocolectomy: PDF Only

PURPOSE: PURPOSE:The aim of this study was to assess the short-term and long-term outcomes of surgical repair of patients with pouch-vaginal fistulas after restorative proctocolectomy.

METHODS: METHODS:A descriptive study was undertaken of all patients developing pouch-vaginal fistulas following restorative proctocolectomy between 1978 and 2003 in a single tertiary referral institution. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to evaluate the time to first pouch-vaginal fistula recurrence and pouch-vaginal fistula-free survival at last follow-up.

RESULTS: RESULTS:Sixty-eight patients (mean age, 32.2 years; standard deviation, 10.7) were identified with a median follow-up of 5.5 (range, 0.2-25.5) years. The origin of the pouch-vaginal fistulas was the pouch-anal anastomosis in 52 (76.5 percent) patients, pouch body/top in 9 (13.2 percent), or cryptoglandular or other source in 7 (10.3 percent). Associated early complications in patients with pouch-vaginal fistulas included pelvic sepsis in 20 (29 percent) patients, anastomotic separation in 6 (24 percent), anastomotic stricture in 16 (24 percent), small bowel obstruction in 17 (25 percent), hemorrhage in 2 (3 percent), or pouchitis in 12 (18 percent). Surgery was undertaken in 59 (87 percent) patients with 14 (20.6 percent) of them undergoing pouch excision/diversion or seton drainage. Forty-five (66 percent) patients underwent primary repair. First recurrence of pouch-vaginal fistula occurred in 27 of 45 (60 percent) patients with a median pouch-vaginal fistula-free interval of 1.6 years (95 percent confidence interval, 0.6-2.7). Fourteen (51.9 percent) patients with recurrent pouch-vaginal fistulas healed following one or more repeat procedures. The diagnosis of Crohn's disease was made in eight (12 percent) patients, with pouch-vaginal fistulas persisting or recurring in all patients with Crohn's disease within five years of the primary treatment. Median pouch-vaginal fistula-free survival was 1.4 years for patients with Crohn's disease and 8.1 years for patients with ulcerative colitis or familial adenomatous polyposis. The pouch-vaginal fistula-free survival improved with repeated local or abdominal repairs for patients with ulcerative colitis. The overall pouch failure rate for patients with pouch-vaginal fistulas was 35 percent (median pouch survival, 4.2 years).

CONCLUSIONS: CONCLUSIONS:Pouch-vaginal fistulas can persist and recur indefinitely, even after repeated repairs. Repair in those patients with Crohn's disease uniformly failed within five years from primary repair. Patients with recurrent pouch-vaginal fistulas and ulcerative colitis should be offered salvage surgery because successful closure following initial failure occurs in approximately 50 percent.

Read at The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Dallas, Texas, May 8 to 13, 2004.

aDepartment of Surgery, St. Mark's Hospital, Watford Road, Harrow, HA1 3UJ, Middlesex, United Kingdom, e-mail:

© The ASCRS 2005