Colorectal disease : the official journal of the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland vol:3 issue:6 pages:406-11
OBJECTIVE: To compare the healing rate after several types of surgical repair of rectovaginal fistula (RVF) in Crohn's disease, and to identify factors predicting a successful outcome. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A Medline review of the literature since 1980 and analysis of our results in 32 consecutive patients was done. RESULTS: All types of repair (rectal, vaginal, anocutaneous advancement flap, or perineoproctotomy with fistula closure) seem to be equally effective. Healing after a first repair is observed in 58 (46-71)%. Healing can still be obtained at subsequent attempts in 62 (40-71)% of the patients. The reported overall healing rate is 75 (56-93)%. The need for proctectomy after an attempt to repair was 6 (0-27)% in these series. Using a tailored surgical approach, we observed primary healing in 57%, healing after one or more supplementary procedures in 71%, for a total 'definitive' closure rate of 75%. Anal continence was never compromised and all temporary stomas (12 patients) could be closed. Univariate analysis identified number of Crohn's sites, presence of extra-intestinal disease and previous Crohn's proctitis to be related with problematic healing after a surgical repair. A positive relation was found between extra-intestinal disease and the number of repairs needed to ultimately obtain healing, whereas the relation with previous right hemicolectomy was negative. Multivariate analysis revealed the number of Crohn's sites as the only factor predicting problematic healing. A defunctioning stoma was not related to the healing rate and had its intrinsic morbidity with supplementary hospitalization (9.6 days). After a median follow-up of 40.4 (range 8-87) months, we observed 4 late recurrences in 25 patients with healed RVF (16%). CONCLUSION: Closure of a RVF in Crohn's disease should not be considered an easy undertaking, especially in patients with several Crohn's sites. In this very heterogeneous group of patients the technique is adapted to the nature and the extent of accompanying anorectal disease. Construction of a temporary stoma is not mandatory and can be limited to complex cases. Healing can be obtained in 75% of all patients, although a late recurrence might occur.