Seton management of complex anorectal fistulas in patients with Crohn's disease
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Anorectal fistulas associated with Crohn's disease are difficult to manage, particularly when the rectum is diseased. Significant morbidity has been associated with both medical and surgical therapy. Although conventional therapy is acceptable in the management of simple fistulas in Crohn's disease, these approaches often exacerbate rather than ameliorate problems in patients with complex fistulas. The authors report ten cases of complex fistulas in patients with Crohn's disease managed with their technique of long-term, indwelling setons. These setons are placed through the fistula tract and tied loosely to maintain the patency of the fistula without cutting through the sphincters. At the time of insertion, although abscesses are incised and drained, no attempt is made to divide the superficial tissues or sphincter overlying the fistulous tract. The patients ranged in age from 23 to 81 years and had a history of Crohn's disease for 1 to 20 years. All cases resulted in excellent palliation. No patient required a proximal colostomy. These patients have been followed for four months to seven years. Despite severe proctitis in six of these patients at the initial operation, no patient has required a proctectomy. The authors believe this technique achieves adequate palliation and should be employed as the procedure of choice in patients with complex anal fistulas associated with Crohn's disease.
Key wordsComplex anal fistulas Crohn's disease Seton management
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