A Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of video-assisted anal fistula treatment (VAAFT)

Surg Endosc. 2018 Apr;32(4):2084-2093. doi: 10.1007/s00464-017-5905-2. Epub 2017 Oct 19.


Background: Video-assisted anal fistula treatment (VAAFT) is a novel, minimally invasive technique for the treatment of fistula-in-ano (FIA). This review aimed to search the literature for the outcome of VAAFT regarding the recurrence and complication rates of the technique.

Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted in compliance with the PRISMA screening guidelines. PubMed/MEDLINE and Scopus were searched for articles reporting the outcomes of VAAFT procedure from inception through April 2017. The main outcomes were patients' characteristics, technical aspects, operation time, recurrence, and complication rates.

Results: Eleven studies (n = 788 patients) were included. The mean age of the patients was 39.5 years. 66.5% of patients had high or complex FIA and 18.4% underwent previous fistula surgery. The internal opening of the fistula was detected in 85.7% of patients. The mean operation time was 42 ± 14.2 min. The weighed mean rate of detection of internal opening was 93.3%. Recurrence occurred in 112 (14.2%) patients after a median follow-up of 9 months. Recurrence rates varied according to method of closure of internal opening from 15.3% after using staplers, 17.7% after suturing, to 25% after advancement flap. The weighted mean recurrence rate across the studies was 17.7%. The weighted mean complication rate was 4.8%.

Conclusion: VAAFT may be considered an effective diagnostic tool and a safe method for the treatment of complex and high FIA attaining satisfactory outcome and acceptably low complications. Recurrence after VAAFT may be related to previous fistula surgery and the method of closure of the internal opening.

Keywords: Anal fistula; Endoscopic, fistuloscopy; Outcome; VAAFT; Video assisted.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Operative Time
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Rectal Fistula / surgery*
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Video-Assisted Surgery / methods*