A new technique for sphincter-preserving anal fistula repair using a novel radial emitting laser probe
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Anal fistula repair still remains challenging. Up to 30% of fistulas persist after surgery despite many improvements in surgical skills and technique. One major reason for surgical failure is a persistent fistula track or remnants of the fistula epithelium which could not be removed during surgery. To overcome this problem, a novel technique was developed using a newly invented radial emitting laser probe (“FiLaC™”, Biolitec, Germany) to destroy the fistula epithelium and to simultaneously obliterate the remaining fistula track. In a pilot study, we operated on 11 patients with cryptoglandular anal fistula. All patients underwent previous surgery up to 6 times prior to definitive surgery. In the primary operation, the initial abscess was drained, the internal opening of the fistula identified and seton drainage placed. During fistula repair, we used the flap technique for conventional closure of the internal opening. The remaining fistula track was cleaned mechanically, the laser inserted into the track and energy applied homogeneously at a wavelength of 1,470 nm and 13 watt. While providing continuous retraction of the probe, the remaining epithelium was destroyed and the fistula track obliterated. The median follow-up was 7.4 months. Nine out of 11 fistulas showed primary healing (81.8%). Only one minor form of incontinence (limited soiling) was observed and no complications occurred. The use of a novel diode laser source and a radial emitting laser probe in addition to conventional surgery is a very promising new technique in sphincter-preserving anal fistula repair. The observed healing rate is high. Due to minimized trauma to the sphincter muscle, there are good short-term functional results without observable procedure-related complications.
KeywordsAnal fistula Repair Sphincter-preserving Laser
I would like to thank Mr. Endrik Groenhoff (Biolitec, Germany) for the laser equipment as well as scientific and technical support and Professor Andrew Zbar for his critical review of the manuscript.
Conflict of interest
The author does not have a financial relationship to Biolitec, Germany. He does have full control of all primary data and he agrees to allow the journal to review the data if requested.
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