Ileal pouch fistulas after restorative proctocolectomy: management and outcomes

W. B. Gaertner, J. Witt, R. D. Madoff, A. Mellgren, C. O. Finne, M. P. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Fistula between an ileal pouch and the vagina, anus, or perineum is an uncommon complication of ileal pouch-anal anastomosis and is a cause of considerable morbidity. Its optimal management has not been determined because of its low incidence. The aim of this study was to review the outcomes of patients who presented with symptomatic ileal pouch-associated fistulas after restorative proctocolectomy (RPC) and to present a diagnostic and treatment algorithm.

Methods: Retrospective review of patients treated for symptomatic ileal pouch-associated fistulas after RPC from 1989 to 2011.

Results: Twenty-five patients (14 men, mean age 40 years) were presented with symptomatic ileal pouch-associated fistulas. Median time to pouch fistula following RPC was 6.9 years (range 1 month–20 years). Fistulas were classified as pouch-anal (n = 12, 48 %), pouch-vaginal (n = 7, 28 %), complex (n = 4, 16 %), and pouch-perineal (n = 2, 8 %). Etiology included Crohn’s disease (n = 15, 60 %), cryptoglandular (n = 6, 24 %), and anastomotic failure (n = 4, 16 %). Each patient underwent an average of 2.8 local procedures or repairs. Overall healing rate was 64 % at a median follow-up of 29 (range 2–108) months. None of the complex fistulas were healed. Postoperative pelvic sepsis, fecal diversion, anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy, and fistula etiology did not significantly impact fistula healing. Three patients required pouch excision with end ileostomy.

Conclusions: Operative treatment of pouch fistulas after RPC resulted in complete healing in 64 % of patients following a stepwise diagnostic and therapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1066
Number of pages6
JournalTechniques in Coloproctology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 26 2014


  • Fistula
  • Ileal pouch
  • Restorative proctocolectomy
  • Treatment


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