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Repeat Transanal Advancement Flap Repair: Impact on the Overall Healing Rate of High Transsphincteric Fistulas and on Fecal Continence

Diseases of the Colon & Rectum
Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer) - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1007/s10350-007-9015-4
  • Original Contributions


Purpose Transanal advancement flap repair (TAFR) has been advocated as the treatment of choice for transsphincteric fistulas passing through the upper or middle third of the external anal sphincter. It is not clear whether previous attempts at repair adversely affect the outcome of TAFR. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the success rate of a repeat TAFR and to assess the impact of such a second procedure on the overall healing rate of high transsphincteric fistulas and on fecal continence. Methods Between January 2001 and January 2005, a consecutive series of 87 patients (62 males; median age, 49 (range, 27–73) years) underwent TAFR. Median follow-up was 15 (range, 2–50) months. Patients in whom the initial operation failed were offered two further treatment options: a second flap repair or a long-term indwelling seton drainage. Twenty-six patients (male:female ratio, 5:2; median age, 51 (range, 31–72) years) preferred a repeat repair. Continence status was evaluated before and after the procedures by using the Rockwood Faecal Incontinence Severity Index (RFISI). Results The healing rate after the first TAFR was 67 percent. Of the 29 patients in whom the initial procedure failed, 26 underwent a repeat TAFR. The healing rate after this second procedure was 69 percent, resulting in an overall success rate of 90 percent. Both before and after the first attempt of TAFR, the median RFISI was 7 (range, 0–34). In patients who underwent a second TAFR, the median RFISI before and after this procedure was 9 (range, 0–34) and 8 (range, 0–34), respectively. None of these changes were statistically significant. Conclusions Repeat TAFR increases the overall healing rate of high transsphincteric fistulas from 67 percent after one attempt to 90 percent after two attempts without a deteriorating effect on fecal continence.

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