Surgical management of fistulating perianal Crohn’s disease: a UK survey

pCD Collaborators

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Aim: Around one-third of patients with Crohn's disease are affected by Crohn's fistula-in-ano (pCD). It typically follows a chronic course and patients undergo long-term medical and surgical therapy. We set out to describe current surgical practice in the management of pCD in the UK. Method: A survey of surgical management of pCD was designed by an expert group of colorectal surgeons and gastroenterologists. This assessed acute, elective, multidisciplinary and definitive surgical management. A pilot of the questionnaire was undertaken at the 2015 meeting of the Digestive Disease Federation. The survey was refined and distributed nationally through the trainee collaborative networks. Results: National rollout obtained responses from 133 of 179 surgeons approached (response rate 74.3%). At first operation, 32% of surgeons would always consider drainage of sepsis and 31.1% would place a draining seton. At first elective operation, 66.6% would routinely insert of draining seton, and 84.4% would avoid cutting seton. An IBD multidisciplinary team was available to 87.6% of respondents, although only 25.1% routinely discussed pCD patients. Anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha therapy was routinely considered by 64.2%, although 44.2% left medical management to gastroenterologists. Common definitive procedures were removal of the seton only (70.7%), fistulotomy (57.1%), advancement flap (38.9%), fistula plug (36.4%) and ligation of intersphincteric track (LIFT) procedure (31.8%). Indications for diverting stoma or proctectomy were intractable sepsis, incontinence and poor quality of life. Conclusion: This survey has demonstrated areas of common practice, but has also highlighted divergent practice including choices of definitive surgery and multimodal management. Practical guidelines are required to support colorectal surgeons in the UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-273
Number of pages8
JournalColorectal Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • anal fistula
  • Crohn's disease
  • survey


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