Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Education in practice
Managing non-IBD fistulising disease
  1. Kapil Sahnan1,2,
  2. Samuel Adegbola1,2,
  3. Nusrat Iqbal1,2,
  4. Charlene Twum-Barima1,2,
  5. Lillian Reza1,2,
  6. Phillip Lung2,
  7. Janindra Warusavitarne1,2,
  8. Ailsa Hart2,3,
  9. Phil Tozer1,2
  1. 1 Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Robin Phillip’s Fistula Research Unit, St Mark's Hospital and Academic Institute, Harrow, London, UK
  3. 3 IBD Unit, St Mark's Hospital, Harrow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mr Kapil Sahnan, Department of Surgery, Imperial College London Department of Surgery and Cancer, London SW7 5NH, UK; ks303{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


As well as inflammatory bowel disease, there are a number of other conditions which either predispose to or cause perianal disease. For the most part, these are relatively simple and can be managed by a local specialist but there are cases where more nuanced approach is needed and where tertiary referral maybe more appropriate. In particular, rarer forms of perianal disease such as complex cryptoglandular fistula, rectovaginal fistula (RVF) and those associated with ileoanal pouches are associated with high levels of morbidity, risk and treatment failure. Experience in patient selection, multiple reparative techniques and identifying rare causes are crucial, and where evidence is lacking, this experience is the surgeon’s only weapon.

The Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland have recently released an updated position statement on anal fistula, once again recognising its complexity and often a lack of high-level evidence for treatment.1 A greater proportion of men suffer from anorectal abscess than women and these occur at a mean age of 40 in both sexes.2–4 Known risk factors associated with developing an abscess include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), smoking and HIV.5 The most commonly reported symptoms are pain and discharge, causing social embarrassment and loss of quality of life (QoL).6–9

It is thought that approximately 90% of abscesses occur due to cryptoglandular suppuration, with infection of the intersphincteric anal glands which lubricate the passage of stool.10 11 The remaining ~10% of cases are caused by Crohn’s disease (CD), abdominal infections tracking caudally (eg, diverticulitis), penetrative causes (eg, animal bones or by anal digitation),12 perforated cancers (eg, rectal or anal) or post radiotherapy, penetrating ulcers,13 tuberculosis (TB),14 actinomycosis15 or from a complication of local surgical procedures (eg, haemorrhoidectomy, episiotomy) or medical treatment (with nicorandil, which causes perianal or peristomal ulceration …

View Full Text


  • Contributors All authors contributed equally in the creation of this manuscript. All authors were involved in the design of this review. The manuscript was written by KS, SA, NI, CT-B, LR and PT. All authors reviewed and critically appraised the manuscript before submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.