Long-term results of surgically treated traumatic rectourethral fistulas

G I Barisic, Z V Krivokapic
Colorectal Disease 2006, 8 (9): 762-5

OBJECTIVE: Rectourethral fistulas are uncommon, usually iatrogenic injuries that are demanding to treat. We present the challenging problems involving the treatment of rectourethral fistulas caused by war wounds.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In the period 1991-1996, during the war in Croatia and Bosnia, six patients with rectourethral fistulas caused by war injuries were operated in our institution by the same surgeon. All patients were young males with a mean age of 24.6 years. In all patients, double diversion (diversion colostomy and cystostomy) was performed at the time of the injury in military hospitals. In three patients, multiple unsuccessful operations were performed in other institutions to close rectourethral fistula. We found urethrocystography and proctoscopy as the most reliable diagnostic studies and performed them in all patients. In first three patients, we performed transanal repair with anterior rectal wall advancement flap. Because it failed in all three patients, we performed York-Mason trans-sphincteric approach and anterior rectal wall advancement flap after which rectourethral fistula closed in all patients. Because of the satisfactory results, we performed the same procedure in other three patients.

RESULTS: In all patients rectourethral fistula healed 2 months after the operation. Closure of diverting colostomy was performed after urethrocystography and proctoscopy proved that the rectourethral fistula has healed. There were no operative deaths and no major complications. Urethral stenosis developed in one patient and was successfully managed by dilatation.

CONCLUSION: We believe that York-Mason trans-sphincteric approach offers straightforward access through healthy tissues and good fistula visualization. Anterior rectal wall advancement flap can easily be performed and offer good chances for definitive closure of the rectourethral fistula.

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