Impact of three-dimensional endoanal ultrasound on the outcome of anal fistula surgery: a prospective cohort study

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The aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of three-dimensional endoanal ultrasound (3D-EAUS) on postoperative outcome in patients with anal fistula.


This prospective study compared clinical and functional outcomes of patients with and without preoperative 3D-EAUS examination 1 year after anal fistula surgery. Patients were prospectively followed and evaluated by a standardized protocol including physical examination, the Wexner Incontinence Score (WIS) and anorectal manometry, at baseline and 1 year after surgery.


A total of 196 patients were enrolled. There were no significant differences in demographic and operative parameters, except for operation time, between the two groups. At 1 year follow-up, the overall recurrence rates were 8.8% (9/102) in the 3D-EAUS group and 13.8% (13/94) in the examination under anaesthesia (EUA) group. In the subgroup of patients with complex fistulae, the recurrence rate was numerically lower in the 3D-EAUS group (12.8% vs 22.5%; P = 0.26). The WIS in the EUA group significantly worsened (0.35 ± 0.94 vs 1.07 ± 1.59; P = 0.003) with a decreased the number of fully continent patients (82.5% vs 55%; P = 0.008) while neither the WIS nor the proportion of fully continent patients changed in the 3D-EAUS group. Fewer patients in the 3D-EAUS group developed incontinence postoperatively (6.7% vs 33.3%; P = 0.012) and they had better maximum resting pressure and maximum squeeze pressure than the EUA group.


Preoperative use of 3D-EAUS had a favourable impact on the outcome of surgical treatment for anal fistulae, especially in those with complex anal fistula. It should be routinely used in the clinical setting.

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