Fistulation into the Pubic Symphysis after Treatment of Prostate Cancer: An Important and Surgically Correctable Complication

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Abstract

Purpose

Chronic pubic pain after the treatment of prostate cancer is often attributed to osteitis pubis. We have become aware of another complication, namely fistulation into the pubic symphysis, which is more serious and more common than previously thought.

Materials and Methods

A total of 16 patients were treated for urosymphyseal fistulas after the treatment of prostate cancer between January 2011 and April 2014. Clinical presentation was characterized by chronic, debilitating pubic/pelvic/groin pain in all patients. Diagnosis was confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging. Conservative management was successful in only 1 patient. The remaining patients were treated surgically with excision of the fistulous track and involved symphyseal bone and omentoplasty, followed by reconstruction when feasible.

Results

All 16 patients had had radiotherapy as primary treatment (8) or after prostatectomy (8). There were 5 patients (31.3%) who underwent various combinations of brachytherapy, external beam radiotherapy and cryotherapy. Bladder neck contractures developed in 13 patients (81.3%), whose treatment (endoscopic or open reconstruction) resulted in urinary leak leading to urosymphyseal fistulas. Reconstruction was possible in 7 of 15 patients (46.7%) with salvage radical prostatectomy and substitution/augmentation cystoplasty. The other 8 patients (53.3%) underwent cystectomy and ileal conduit diversion. All patients experienced resolution of symptoms, most significantly the almost immediate resolution of pain.

Conclusions

A high index of suspicion must be maintained in irradiated patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of urosymphyseal fistulas, especially after having undergone treatment of bladder neck contractures or prostatic urethral stenoses. Although extensive, surgery for urosymphyseal fistulas, with a high risk of morbidity and mortality and a protracted recovery, leads to immediate and dramatic improvement in symptoms.

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