Background. Recurrent rectovaginal fistulas (RRVFs) pose a challenging problem, which can be treated by different surgical procedures. We performed this study to determine the ultimate success rate of various repair techniques. Methods. Using a standard data collection form, we retrospectively reviewed charts of patients treated for RRVF. Results. Between 1991 and 2000, 57 procedures were performed in 35 women who presented with RRVF. Median follow-up was 4 months (interquartile range, 1,25). The causes of RRVF included obstetrical injury (n = 15), Crohn's disease (n = 12), fistula occurring after proctocolectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (for ulcerative colitis, n = 3; indeterminate colitis, n = 1; familial polyposis, n = 1), cryptoglandular disease (n = 2), and fistula occurring immediately after low anterior resection for rectal cancer (n = 1). The methods of repair used included mucosal advancement flap (n = 30), fistulotomy with overlapping sphincter repair (n = 14), rectal sleeve advancement (n = 3), fibrin glue (n = 1), proctectomy with colonic pull-through (n = 2), and ileal pouch revision (n = 6). Twenty-seven of 34 (79%) patients with adequate follow-up eventually healed after a median of 2 operations. Logistic regression was used to analyze outcome according to etiology of fistula, patient age, number of prior repairs, time interval between last repair and current repair, and presence of fecal diversion. Crohn's disease, the presence of a diverting stoma, and decreased time interval since prior repair were associated with a poorer outcome. Conclusions. Most RRVFs can be successfully repaired, although repeated operations may be necessary. Delaying repair may improve outcome.
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