Central Surgical Association| Volume 114, ISSUE 4, P682-690, October 1993

Endorectal advancement flap repair of rectovaginal and other complicated anorectal fistulas

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      Background. Surgical correction of rectovaginal and complicated anal-perineal fistulas has been associated with high rates of complications and failure of repair.
      Methods. This paper reports on 107 patients treated during the past 10 years by endorectal advancement flap repair. Ninety-two percent of the patients were women with mean age of 38 years (range, 20 to 71 years). Seventy-one had low rectovaginal, 28 had anterior anal-perineal, and 8 had posterior anal-perineal fistulas. The causes were obstetric injury, 48; cryptoglandular abscess-fistula, 31; Crohn's disease, 24; and trauma or after operation, 4. The technique completely preserves the sphincter muscle, covers the internal opening of the fistula tract with healthy rectal wall, and provides counter drainage to aid healing.
      Results. No deaths occurred in the series. Persistent or recurrent fistula occurred in 17 patients (16%). Nine patients whose initial operation failed underwent a secondary successful operation. Continence status was unchanged in 80%, improved in 18%, and was unknown in two patients who still had intestinal flow diversion. Recurrence of the fistula did not result in destruction of the sphincter mechanism in those patients who underwent simultaneous reconstructive operation.
      Conclusions. The endorectal advancement flap repair successfully treated 93% of the complicated anorectal fistulas, avoiding fecal diversion and improving, not injuring, sphincter function.
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