Comparison of different methods to manage supralevator rectal opening in anal fistulas: A retrospective cohort study

Cir Esp (Engl Ed). 2021 Apr 16:S0009-739X(21)00114-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ciresp.2021.03.011. Online ahead of print.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: Supralevator fistula-in-ano are difficult to manage. If these fistulas have an additional supralevator internal-opening in rectum apart from the primary internal-opening at the dentate line, then the management becomes even more difficult. There is no literature/guidelines available on the management of supralevator rectal opening (SRO).

Methods: All consecutive supralevator fistula-in-ano patients having a SRO were retrospectively analyzed. The operative management of SRO in these fistulas was reviewed. All the fistulas were managed by the same procedure, transanal opening of intersphincteric space (TROPIS). The latter was a modification of LIFT (ligation of intersphincteric tract) procedure in which the intersphincteric tract was opened-up in the rectum rather than ligated (as is done in LIFT). The SRO was managed in three ways, group-1:SRO was laid-open into the rectum in continuity with the primary opening at dentate line, group-2:the mucosa around SRO was cauterized, group-3:nothing could be done to SRO.

Results: Out of 836 patients operated between 2015 and 2020, 138 patients (16.5%) had supralevator extension. Amongst these, 23/138 (16.6%) patients had a SRO. 2 patients were excluded (short follow-up) and 21 patients were included in the analysis. 12/13(92%) patients in group-1, 4/5 (80%) patients in group-2 and 2/3(67%) patients in group-3 got healed (p=0.47, Chi-square test). The overall healing rate was 18/21(86%).

Conclusions: The supralevator rectal opening (SRO) heals well irrespective of the method utilized. Thus, proper management of the primary opening at the dentate line holds the key to fistula healing and SRO is perhaps not much responsible for persistence of the fistula. However, more studies are needed to corroborate these findings.

Keywords: Anal fistula; Apertura interna; Fístula anal; Internal opening; Supraelevador; Supralevator.