Background: Injecting fibrin glue has proved to be an effective means of treating anal fistulas (AF). There has been some debate, however, as to whether this technique should be used on the AF often involved in Crohn's disease (CD).
Aim: To assess the effectiveness of injecting heterologous fibrin glue as a means of treating AF refractory to immunosuppressive treatment in patients with CD.
Methods: Fourteen CD patients (five men and nine women, average age 42 years) presenting with refractory AFs were included in this study. Heterologous fibrin glue was injected into the fistula tract under general anaesthesia under continuous endosonographic monitoring using a 7.5-MHz blind linear probe. The patients were followed up clinically and ultrasonographically for 3 months after the procedure, and then at regular intervals.
Results: Three months after the fibrin glue injection, the fistulas had completely dried up in 10 patients (71%), the leakage had decreased in one patient (7%), and no improvement was observed in the other three patients (21%). Endosonographic findings showed that the fistula tract had completely disappeared in two cases (14%). The fistula tract was found to be non-permeable in eight cases (57%), and no change in the fistula was observed in four patients (29%). At the end of the follow-up period [average 23.4 months (12-26 months)], the leakage had completely dried up in eight of the 14 patients (57%). No side effects were observed.
Conclusion: Nearly 2 years after the use of a heterologous fibrin glue to treat an AF, over half of the patients with CD showed clinical signs of remission. Because it is easy to use and harmless as well as being effective, this method provides a good alternative to classical methods of surgical treatment.