Background and aims: Fistulous disease is common in Crohn's disease, and entero- and colocutaneous fistulae are particularly debilitating and difficult to manage. We present the results of surgical management of these fistulas. Patients and methods: Retrospective chart review of all 51 patients with Crohn's disease (56 surgical procedures) undergoing surgery for cutaneous fistulae between 1983 and 2000. Results: Previous surgery for Crohn's disease had been carried out in 43 patients (84%). The fistula site was enterocutaneous in 36 patients (64%), colocutaneous in 12 (21%), and anastomotic in 8 (14%); 9 patients (16%) also had associated enteroenteric fistulas. The onset of the fistula followed abscess drainage in 15 (27%) and occurred at the site of recurrent disease in 41 (73%). Forty patients (71%) initially underwent conservative management prior to surgery; 16 (28%) underwent surgery directly. Surgical procedures were: 25 ileocolic resections, 8 stoma revisions with resection, 8 small bowel resections 7 subtotal colectomies, 4 partial colectomies, 3 proctocolectomies, and one fistula tract excision. Mean total length of stay was 18 days (postoperative 10.7 days). Six (11%) patients had eight postoperative complications. Mean follow-up was 48.6 months (range 3-187). Recurrence as defined by either clinical examination or reoperation was documented in nine fistulas (16%), with a mean time to recurrence of 27 months. Conclusion: Entero-and colocutaneous fistulae usually occur from a site of active disease. Surgical management with bowel resection, including the fistula, is the preferred method of treatment. Morbidity has been low and recurrence rate lower than expected.
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