Simple fistula-in-ano: is it all simple? A systematic review
Techniques in Coloproctology
Background Simple anal fistula is one of the most common causes of proctological surgery and fistulotomy is considered the gold standard. This procedure, however, may cause complications. The aim of this systematic review was to assess the surgical treatment of simple anal fistula with traditional and sphincter-sparing techniques. Methods A literature research was performed using PubMed, Cochrane, and Google Scholar to identify studies on the surgical treatment of simple anal fistulas.
... onal studies and randomized clinical trials were included. We assessed the risk of bias of included studies using the Jadad scale for randomized controlled trials, and the MINORS Scale for the remaining studies. Results The search returned 456 records, and 66 studies were found to be eligible. The quality of the studies was generally low. A total of 4883 patients with a simple anal fistula underwent a sphincter-cutting procedure, mainly fistulotomy, with a weighted average healing rate of 93.7%, while any postoperative continence impairment was reported in 12.7% of patients. Sphincter-sparing techniques were adopted to treat 602 patients affected by simple anal fistula, reaching a weighted average success rate of 77.7%, with no study reporting a significant postoperative incontinence rate. The postoperative onset of fecal incontinence and the recurrence of the disease reduced patients' quality of life and satisfaction. Conclusions Surgical treatment of simple anal fistulas with sphincter-cutting procedures provides excellent cure rates, even if postoperative fecal incontinence is not a negligible risk. A sphincter-sparing procedure could be useful in selected patients.