Is laparoscopic surgery the best treatment in fistulas complicating diverticular disease of the sigmoid colon? A systematic review

Int J Surg. 2015 Dec;24(Pt A):95-100. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2015.11.007. Epub 2015 Nov 14.


Introduction: Laparoscopic surgery is considered in the treatment of diverticular fistula for the possible reduction of overall morbidity and complication rate if compared to open surgery. Aim of this review is to assess the possible advantages deriving from a laparoscopic approach in the treatment of diverticular fistulas of the colon.

Methods: Studies presenting at least 10 adult patients who underwent laparoscopic surgery for sigmoid diverticular fistula were reviewed. Fistula recurrence, reintervention, Hartmann's procedure or proximal diversion, conversion to laparotomy were the outcomes considered.

Results: 11 non randomized studies were included. Rates of fistula recurrence (0.8%), early reintervention (30 days) (2%) and need for Hartmann's procedure or proximal diversion (1.4%) did not show significant difference between laparoscopy and open technique.

Discussion: there is still concern about which surgery in complicated diverticulitis should be preferred. Laparoscopic approach has led to less postoperative pain, shorter hospital stay, faster recovery and better cosmetic results. Laparoscopic resection and primary anastomosis is a possible approach to sigmoid fistulas but its advantages in terms of lower mortality rate and postoperative stay after colon resection with primary anastomosis should be interpreted with caution. When there is firm evidence supporting it, it is likely that minimally invasive surgery should become the standard approach for diverticular fistulas, thus achieving adequate exposure and better visualization of the surgical field.

Conclusion: The lack of RCTs, the small sample size, the heterogeneity of literature do not allow to draw statistically significant conclusions on the laparoscopic surgery for fistulas despite this approach is considered safe.

Keywords: Bladder; Colon; Diverticular fistula; Diverticulitis; Laparoscopic surgery.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Colectomy / methods*
  • Colon, Sigmoid*
  • Diverticulitis, Colonic / complications*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Fistula / etiology
  • Intestinal Fistula / surgery*
  • Laparoscopy / methods*