Internal sphincterotomy is considered the standard for treating anal fissure, but it is associated with a risk of impaired anal continence. This study aimed to conduct a long-term follow-up to compare postoperative anal continence using dermal flap coverage or lateral internal sphincterotomy for treatment of chronic anal fissure.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
Sixty patients with chronic anal fissure (male/female, 30:30; age range, 22–79 y) were treated by open lateral internal sphincterotomy (n = 30) or dermal flap coverage (n = 30) from 1997 to 2002. The postoperative course was evaluated using the clinical charts. A standardized questionnaire assessing complaints and anal continence was sent to the patients 70 to 94 months postoperatively and phone interviews were conducted.
Operations were performed with general anesthesia as short-stay hospital procedures. The chronic fissure wounds healed in both groups regardless of surgical technique. Symptoms of mild anal incontinence (ie, soiling, flatus) were present 3 months after operation in 6 of 30 (20.0%) patients with lateral internal sphincterotomy and in no patient with dermal flap coverage (P < .05); 70 to 94 months postoperatively, mild anal incontinence was present in 10 of 21 (47.6%) patients with lateral internal sphincterotomy and in 1 of 17 (5.8%) patients with dermal flap coverage (P < .05).
Long-term follow-up shows a very low incidence of mild anal incontinence after dermal flap coverage. We conclude from this study that the dermal flap procedure appears to be efficacious without an increased risk of incontinence and with results comparable to lateral internal sphincterotomy. The dermal flap procedure can be recommended for patients following failed conservative fissure treatment without the potential risk of anal incontinence.