Video-assisted anal fistula treatment (VAAFT): a novel sphincter-saving procedure for treating complex anal fistulas

Tech Coloproctol. 2011 Dec;15(4):417-22. doi: 10.1007/s10151-011-0769-2. Epub 2011 Oct 15.


Background: Video-assisted anal fistula treatment (VAAFT) is a novel minimally invasive and sphincter-saving technique for treating complex fistulas. The aim of this report is to describe the procedural steps and preliminary results of VAAFT.

Methods: Karl Storz Video Equipment is used. Key steps are visualization of the fistula tract using the fistuloscope, correct localization of the internal fistula opening under direct vision, endoscopic treatment of the fistula and closure of the internal opening using a stapler or cutaneous-mucosal flap. Diagnostic fistuloscopy under irrigation is followed by an operative phase of fulguration of the fistula tract, closure of the internal opening and suture reinforcement with cyanoacrylate.

Results: From May 2006 to May 2011, we operated on 136 patients using VAAFT. Ninety-eight patients were followed up for a minimum of 6 months. No major complications occurred. In most cases, both short-term and long-term postoperative pain was acceptable. Primary healing was achieved in 72 patients (73.5%) within 2-3 months of the operation. Sixty-two patients were followed up for more than 1 year. The percentage of the patients healed after 1 year was 87.1%.

Conclusions: The main feature of the VAAFT technique is that the procedure is performed entirely under direct endoluminal vision. With this approach, the internal opening can be found in 82.6% of cases. Moreover, fistuloscopy helps to identify any possible secondary tracts or chronic abscesses. The VAAFT technique is sphincter-saving, and the surgical wounds are extremely small. Our preliminary results are very promising.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anal Canal / surgery*
  • Colonoscopes*
  • Colonoscopy / methods*
  • Equipment Design
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rectal Fistula / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Video-Assisted Surgery / instrumentation*
  • Wound Healing