Using phenol for treating pilonidal sinus: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Ahmed HagigaEmail author
  • Mohamed Aly
  • Mariia Gultiaeva
  • Henry Murphy


Pilonidal sinus is an acquired disease that affects the natal cleft. Phenolization is a common conservative treatment approach due to its robust antiseptic effects. The aim of this study is to systematically review and evaluate the quality of the controlled clinical trials that investigated the effectiveness of phenol, as a standalone or an adjunct treatment, compared to surgical intervention in reducing sinus recurrence rate and hospitalization period. Four electronic databases were searched (MEDLINE (PubMed), Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane) from inception to October 2018. The retrieved studies were screened by two independent reviewers. The risk of bias was assessed using the Jadad tool. Meta-analysis was conducted to examine recurrence rate and hospital stay using random effect model while I2 test was used to assess heterogeneity. Five studies were eligible for qualitative and quantitative assessment; 228 patients were treated with phenolization (45.6%) and 272 patients were treated with surgery (54.4%). Phenolization reduces the Likelihood of hospital stay after the procedure by 96–100% compared to surgery. For recurrence rate, the pooled analysis showed no significant difference between phenol and surgery treatment. However, 33.33% of cases did not recur after multi applications of crystallized phenol. Phenolization of patients with pilonidal sinuses is significantly associated with less hospitalization compared to surgical intervention. However, both approaches have a comparable recurrence rate and complications.


Phenolization Pilonidal sinus Surgery Recurrence rate Hospitalization 


Conflict of interest

Ahmed Hagiga, Mohamed Aly, Mariia Gultiaeva, and Henry Murphy declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was not required because this was a review study.

Ethical approval

For this type of study, formal consent from a local ethics committee is not required.

Supplementary material

238_2019_1499_MOESM1_ESM.jpeg (11 kb)
ESM 1 Funnel plot for the recurrence rate (JPEG 10 kb)
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ESM 2 Funnel plot for the hospital stay (JPEG 10 kb)
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ESM 3 Risk of bias graph (PNG 4 kb)
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ESM 4 Risk of bias summary (PNG 3 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation TrustWest Middlesex University HospitalLondonUK
  2. 2.Cairo University HospitalsCairoEgypt
  3. 3.Pavlov First Saint Petersburg State Medical UniversitySaint PetersburgRussia

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