JOURNAL ARTICLE

Use of rectus abdominis muscle flap for the treatment of complex and refractory urethrovaginal fistulas

R G Bruce, R E El-Galley, N T Galloway
Journal of Urology 2000, 163 (4): 1212-5
10737499

PURPOSE: Urethrovaginal fistulas are commonly repaired transvaginally with local tissue flaps, such as the Martius labial fat pad graft. Although this flap is ideal, if it fails and the fistula persists, subsequent treatment options are limited. We describe the use of a pedicled rectus abdominis muscle flap for the repair of complex and refractory urethrovaginal fistulas.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Six women with a mean age of 53 years (range 41 to 62) who had complex and refractory urethrovaginal fistulas were referred to our continence center. Mean number of prior attempted repairs was 1.3 and in all cases at least 1 Martius flap had failed. Transvaginal urethrovaginal fistula closure was performed followed by a pedicled rectus abdominis muscle flap interposed between the fistula closure and vaginal suture line. The muscle flap was based on the inferior epigastric vessels, and provided additional support to the urethra, bladder neck and bladder base.

RESULTS: Urethrovaginal fistula repair with the rectus abdominis muscle flap was successful in all cases. No fistula recurred. Of the patients 5 (83%) were continent and able to void to completion at a mean followup of 23 months (range 2 to 66).

CONCLUSIONS: The rectus abdominis muscle flap is a useful adjunct in the repair of complex and refractory urethrovaginal fistulas. It can be used with confidence to provide support to the bladder neck and proximal urethra in patients after failed prior repair with the Martius flap procedure. The pelvic surgeon may be able to recognize other applications for the rectus abdominis muscle flap in pelvic floor reconstruction.

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