Background: The purpose of our study was to elucidate features, surgical procedures, and long-term results in patients with anorectal complications of Crohn's disease.
Methods: Physical findings, surgical treatment, and long-term outcome were recorded prospectively for 224 patients who had anorectal complications of Crohn's disease between October 1984 and May 1999.
Results: Presenting complications included abscess (n = 36), fistula-in-ano (n = 51), rectovaginal fistula (n = 20), anal stenosis (n = 40), anal incontinence (n = 11), or a combination of features (n = 66). Twenty-four patients did not undergo surgical treatment; the remaining 200 patients underwent 284 procedures. Ultimately, 139 patients (62%) retained anorectal function; reasons for proctectomy in the remaining 85 patients included disease (n = 66), extensive fistular disease (n = 15), fecal incontinence (n = 2), and tight anal stenosis (n = 1). Patients with rectal disease had a significantly higher rate of proctectomy than patients with rectal sparing (77.6% vs. 13.6%, respectively, P<.0001). In the absence of rectal involvement, patients with multiple complications had a significantly higher rate of proctectomy than patients with single complications (23% vs. 10%, P<.05).
Conclusions: A wide spectrum of surgical techniques is required for the management of the diverse anorectal complications of Crohn's disease. Complete healing and control of sepsis can be achieved in the majority of patients. Active rectal disease and multiple complications significantly increase the need for proctectomy.