Draining Setons as Definitive Management of Fistula-in-Ano

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BACKGROUND:The ideal management for fistula-in-ano would resolve the disease while preserving anal continence.OBJECTIVE:The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of draining seton alone in achieving resolution or significant amelioration of symptoms for patients with fistula-in-ano.DESIGN:This was a retrospective case series involving chart review and telephone interviews. A single colorectal surgeon performed surgeries between June 1, 2005, and June 30, 2014.SETTINGS:The study was conducted by a single surgeon in a large urban city.PATIENTS:Patient ≥18 years of age presenting with fistula-in-ano of cryptoglandular origin were included.MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:Resolution of symptoms or significant symptom improvement requiring no additional surgical management and rate of recurrence were measured.RESULTS:A total of 76 patients (53 men) met the inclusion criteria. Mean age was 45 years (range, 19–73 y). The average time to seton removal was 36.6 weeks (range, 6.0–188.0 wk). Mean follow-up was 63 months (range, 7–121 mo). Fifty-seven patients (75%) were reached for telephone interview. Fifty-six patients (73.7%) had complete symptom resolution, and 14 (18.4%) had significant amelioration of symptoms with no additional surgical management required. Six (7.9%) had persistent severe symptoms. Five (7.1%) had a recurrence after seton removal. Rates of symptom resolution and recurrence were similar between patients whose setons were removed before or after 26 weeks (median time of seton removal) from the time of placement. Twenty-one patients (27.6%) required 1 or more additional operative procedures before planned seton removal to unroof a collection and/or replace the seton, and this represented the most significant risk factor for failure of resolution or improvement or recurrence (relative risk = 7.0).LIMITATIONS:This study was retrospective and represents a single surgeon experience.CONCLUSIONS:Placement of draining seton alone is a viable treatment option for definitive symptomatic management of fistula-in-ano. Because draining setons are sphincter and function preserving, their use should be considered as primary management for fistula-in-ano. See Video Abstract at http://links.lww.com/DCR/A552.

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