Purpose: It has long been suspected that a family history of pilonidal sinus disease may predispose to higher disease incidence. The influence of family history on recurrence rate has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the recurrence rate in patients with both a personal and a family history of pilonidal sinus disease.
Methods: A standardized telephone interview was used to retrospectively study 578 patients who underwent primary surgery between 1980 and 1996. Differences concerning the long-term recurrence rate between patients with a positive or negative family history were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier statistics.
Results: Sixty-eight of 578 patients (12%) had a positive family history with first-degree relatives, in which 28 brothers and 25 fathers were similarly involved. The long-term recurrence rate was significantly elevated when family history was positive (35% vs. 22% after 15 years and 52% vs. 28% after 25 years; P = 0.02). The long-term recurrence rate was elevated if surgery was needed at a younger age (P = 0.03). The body mass index measured at time of admission for surgery did not seem to have any negative influence on recurrence rates (P = 0.31). Although a positive family history predisposes a person to earlier onset of disease, recurrences occur within 5.1 +/- 6.2 years (mean +/- standard deviation) in patients with a positive family history and within 5.3 +/- 5.2 years in patients with a negative family history (P = 0.95).
Conclusion: Patients with a positive family history need closer surgical monitoring because primary disease will manifest earlier. A remarkable long-term recurrence rate exceeding 50% after 25 years places a much higher disease burden on patients with a positive family history. All available interventions known to reduce recurrence rate should be applied to this group of patients.