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Efficacy of Anal Fistula Plug vs. Fibrin Glue in Closure of Anorectal Fistulas

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Diseases of the Colon & Rectum


Long-term closure rates of anorectal fistulas using fibrin glue have been disappointing, possibly because of the liquid consistency of the glue. A suturable bioprosthetic plug (Surgisis®, Cook Surgical, Inc.) was fashioned to close the primary opening of fistula tracts. A prospective cohort study was performed to compare fibrin glue vs. the anal fistula plug.


Patients with high transsphincteric fistulas, or deeper, were prospectively enrolled. Patients with Crohn's disease or superficial fistulas were excluded. Age, gender, number and type of fistula tracts, and previous fistula surgeries were compared between groups. Under general anesthesia and in prone jackknife position, the tract was irrigated with hydrogen peroxide. Fistula tracts were occluded by fibrin glue vs. closure of the primary opening using a Surgisis® anal fistula plug.


Twenty-five patients were prospectively enrolled. Ten patients underwent fibrin glue closure, and 15 used a fistula plug. Patient's age, gender, fistula tract characteristics, and number of previous closure attempts was similar in both groups. In the fibrin glue group, six patients (60 percent) had persistence of one or more fistulas at three months, compared with two patients (13 percent) in the plug group (P < 0.05, Fisher exact test).


Closure of the primary opening of a fistula tract using a suturable biologic anal fistula plug is an effective method of treating anorectal fistulas. The method seems to be more reliable than fibrin glue closure. The greater efficacy of the fistula plug may be the result of the ability to suture the plug in the primary opening, therefore, closing the primary opening more effectively. Further prospective, long-term studies are warranted.

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Correspondence to David N. Armstrong M.D., F.R.C.S..

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Dr. David Armstrong has a patent-licensing agreement with the manufacturers of Surgisis® (Cook Surgical, Bloomington, IN).

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Johnson, E.K., Gaw, J.U. & Armstrong, D.N. Efficacy of Anal Fistula Plug vs. Fibrin Glue in Closure of Anorectal Fistulas. Dis Colon Rectum 49, 371–376 (2006).

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