Copyright ©2014 Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastrointest Pathophysiol. Nov 15, 2014; 5(4): 487-495
Published online Nov 15, 2014. doi: 10.4291/wjgp.v5.i4.487
Contemporary surgical management of rectovaginal fistula in Crohn's disease
Michael A Valente, Tracy L Hull
Michael A Valente, Tracy L Hull, Department of Colorectal Surgery, Digestive Disease Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, United States
Author contributions: Valente MA and Hull TL contributed equally to this work.
Correspondence to: Michael A Valente, DO, Staff Surgeon, Department of Colorectal Surgery, Digestive Disease Institute, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, A-30, Cleveland, OH 44195, United States.
Telephone: +1-216-4456297 Fax: +1-216-4458627
Received: January 6, 2014
Revised: March 27, 2014
Accepted: July 17, 2014
Published online: November 15, 2014

Rectovaginal fistula is a disastrous complication of Crohn’s disease (CD) that is exceedingly difficult to treat. It is a disabling condition that negatively impacts a women’s quality of life. Successful management is possible only after accurate and complete assessment of the entire gastrointestinal tract has been performed. Current treatment algorithms range from observation to medical management to the need for surgical intervention. A wide variety of success rates have been reported for all management options. The choice of surgical repair methods depends on various fistula and patient characteristics. Before treatment is undertaken, establishing reasonable goals and expectations of therapy is essential for both the patient and surgeon. This article aims to highlight the various surgical techniques and their outcomes for repair of CD associated rectovaginal fistula.

Keywords: Rectovaginal fistula, Crohn’s disease, Fistula, Advancement flap, Sleeve advancement, Episioproctotomy

Core tip: Rectovaginal fistula secondary to Crohn’s disease is a devastating and disabling condition with a significant negative impact on quality of life. Furthermore, these fistulae pose an extremely challenging dilemma for the clinician with unique and often frustrating management challenges. Medical management is often futile and surgery may offer the only chance for cure. In this article, we aim to review the various treatment options to close these difficult to treat fistulae, with an emphasis on surgical technique and complex decision making.