There is no a clear knowledge concerning the division of any part of the anal sphincter complex and the effect of this procedure on the function of the anal canal during the treatment of perianal fistula.
To evaluate the usefulness of 3D anorectal ultrasound in the assessment of anal fistula, quantifying the length of the sphincter muscle to be transected, selecting patients for different approaches and identifying healing, failure or recurrence after the surgical treatment.
A prospective study included patients with primarily cryptogenic transsphincteric anal fistula assessed by fecal Incontinence score, tri-dimensional anorectal ultrasound and anal manometry before and after surgery. Based on 3D-AUS, patients with ≥50% external sphincter or external sphincter+puborectalis muscle involvement in males and ≥40% external sphincter or external sphincter+puborectalis muscle in females were referred for the ligation of the intersphincteric tract (LIFT) or seton placement and subsequent fistulotomy; and with <50% involvement in males and <40% in females were referred to one-stage fistulotomy. After surgery, the fibrosis (muscles divided) and residual muscles were measured and compared with the pre-operative.
A total of 73 patients was included. The indication for the LIFT was significantly higher in females (47%), one-stage fistulotomy was significantly higher in the males (46%) and similar in seton placement. The minor postoperative incontinence was identified in 31% of patients underwent sphincter divided and were similar in both genders. The 3D-AUS identified seven failed cases.
The 3D ultrasound was shown to be an effective method in the preoperative assessment of anal fistulas by quantifying the length of muscle to be divided, as the results were similar at the post-operative, providing a safe treatment approach according to the gender and percentage of muscle involvement. Additionally, 3D ultrasound successfully identified the healing tissue and the type of failure or recurrence.
Anorectal malformations; Rectal fistula; Fecal incontinence; Ultrasonics