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Singapore Med J. 2002 Jun;43(6):305-7.

Routine use of setons for the treatment of anal fistulae.

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Department of Surgery, National University Hospital, Singapore.



Anal fistula is usually treated by either fistulotomy or fistulectomy. We described the routine use of setons to treat anal fistula without any surgery.


Forty-seven consecutive patients with diagnosed anal fistulae were treated using setons alone.


The median age of the patients was 41 (range: 18-70). Of the 47 patients, 15 had surgery previously for fistula and perianal abscess. At least two setons were inserted through each fistula. One was tied tightly to function as a cutting seton and this was sequentially tightened by the patient and another was tied loosely for drainage. Of the 47 patients, 33 (70%) had the placement of setons in the clinic without any anaesthesia. The remaining 14 patients had the setons inserted in the operating room, with one patient having a complex anal fistula and 13 patients having perianal abscess requiring drainage at the same time. There were no post procedure complications in the series. Forty-one patients had completed follow up at clinic within a median duration of 15 weeks (range: two to 67 weeks). The fistula was completely healed by this method in 37 patients (78%). The median healing time was nine weeks (range: four to 62 weeks). One patient developed recurrent fistula and was healed after another seton placement. No patient developed any faecal incontinence and all patients were satisfied with this treatment.


The routine seton method is safe, cheap and effective in the treatment of anal fistula regardless of type. It does not leave an open wound and most patients are satisfied with the treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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