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Zentralbl Chir. 1998;123(7):840-5; discussion 846.

[Stepwise concept for treatment of complex anal fistulas].

[Article in German]

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Chirurgische Universitätsklinik, Würzburg.


Most anal fistulas can be easily dealt with by simple fistulotomy. So called complex fistulas-in-ano need a differentiated, individually tailored surgical approach in order to avoid recurrence and sphincter incompetence. Complex fistulas comprise either tracks with high trans-, supra-, or extrasphincteric extension or fistulas that are complicated by multiple side branches, chronic inflammatory disease, previous operations etc. Prior to treatment a thorough preoperative diagnostic work-up is warranted. A precise intraoperative evaluation is paramount to allow radical excision of all inflamed tissue, often necessitating anal sphincter division with subsequent reconstruction. The treatment plan involves staged operations over a period of many months, usually with the (laparoscopic) fashioning of a protective stoma at the primary operation. Analysing our patients in the study period from 1/95 to 12/96 our different surgical approaches and their results are presented and discussed. During this period 96 patients with a fistula-in-ano were operated upon in the Department of Surgery at Würzburg University Hospital, of which 11 (11.5%) had complex disease. We encountered one early and one late recurrence as well as a parastomal hernia and a stoma prolapse. Anal continence was re-assessed three months following reversal of colostomy. All patients (n = 7) who had perfect continence preoperatively remained unchanged. Preoperatively, four patients were incontinent for gas and liquid stool. Two of these were fully continent, one remained unchanged at re-assessment. The fourth patient did not undergo stoma reversal as yet, because all examinations revealed an incompetent sphincter. This patient is therefore fully incontinent. Successful treatment of complex anal fistulas needs an individual approach and planning over a lengthy period of time, requiring a high level of motivation on the part of both patient and surgeon.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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