Autologous stem cell transplantation for treatment of rectovaginal fistula in perianal Crohn's disease: a new cell-based therapy

Int J Colorectal Dis. 2003 Sep;18(5):451-4. doi: 10.1007/s00384-003-0490-3. Epub 2003 May 20.


Background and aims: Rectovaginal fistulas in patients with Crohn's disease are difficult to resolve, and surgical failure is very frequent. Recent studies have shown that adult stem cells extracted from certain tissues, such as adipose tissue, can develop into different tissues, such as muscle.

Patient and methods: We report here the case of a young patient with Crohn's disease who had a recurrent rectovaginal fistula that was treated by autologous stem-cell transplantation with a lipoaspirate as the source of stem cells.

Results: Although Crohn's disease is the worst condition for a surgical approach in cases of rectovaginal fistula, we observed good closure. Since the surgical procedure 3 month ago the patient has not experienced vaginal flatus or fecal incontinence through her vagina. Thus our treatment seems to be effective.

Conclusion: Cell transplantation to overcome healing problems is a new surgical tool, and careful evaluation of this new modality may provide an opportunity to define a new era in the treatment of surgical challenges associated with healing disorders. Ethical and safety items do not seem to be critical problems using autologous stem cells.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Crohn Disease / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipectomy*
  • Rectovaginal Fistula / etiology
  • Rectovaginal Fistula / therapy*
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Treatment Outcome