Rectal advancement flap is a popular option for treatment of complex anal fistula. Although early outcomes vary, concerns remain about postoperative continence, long-term healing, and its role in patients with Crohn's disease and anovaginal fistulas.
This study aimed to report long-term outcomes in patients with complex fistula disease.
Patients who were undergoing rectal advancement flap for anal fistula were included in the study.
Patients were contacted to determine the status of their fistula disease, their bowel function, and their degree of fecal incontinence.
The main outcomes measured were healing rate and continence.
There were 98 patients, 43 men and 55 women, mean age 53 ± 14 years. Fifty-eight had cryptoglandular fistulas, and 40 (41%) had IBD (33 had Crohn's disease). Seventy-seven of 98 patients had perianal fistulas, and all 77 underwent seton drainage before advancement flap. Twenty-one women had anovaginal fistulas. Average postoperative length of stay was 3 ± 1 days. There were no mortalities. Follow-up was possible in 75 patients, a mean of 7 ± 3 years after surgery. Primary healing occurred in 54 (72%) patients. Twenty-one patients (28%) underwent further treatment, and 12 (57%) healed after a second advancement flap. Four more patients healed after more than 2 flaps or fistulotomy leading to an overall healing rate of 70 of 75 (93%). Patients with Crohn's disease had lower healing rates than those with cryptoglandular fistulas (87% vs 98%). Thirty-two patients (43%) had normal fecal continence before flap, and 43 (57%) had normal fecal continence after flap.
Advancement flap is a good option for patients with complex anal fistulas.
Department of Colorectal Surgery, Digestive Diseases Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio
Financial Disclosures: None reported.
Poster presentation at the meeting of The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, Minneapolis, MN, May 15 to 19, 2010.
Correspondence: James Church, M.B.Ch.B., Desk A 30, 9500 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44195. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org