Rectovaginal fistulas account for less than 5% of all anorectal fistulas. They may occur as a result of obstetrical injuries, inflammatory bowel diseases, or pelvic cancer irradiation.
<bold>The aim of the study</bold> was to describe the results of different methods of surgical treatment according to the etiology and localization of rectovaginal fistulas.
<bold>Material and methods.</bold> The study included 23 female patients who underwent operations for rectovaginal fistulas within the period of 1995 to 2006. The age of patients ranged from 18 to 64 years, with an average age of 41 years.
14 patients received radical treatment according to the etiology and localization of the fistulas: four were treated with abdominal approach, six with a local excision of the rectovaginal fistula involving layer closure of rectal and vaginal openings and interposition of musculomucosal flaps, and four with a simple fistulectomy involving the removal of inflamed tissue and the reconstruction of the perineal body, anal sphincters, and all layers of the rectal and vaginal walls.
In nine cases, patients received a palliative surgical treatment to address extensive tissue destruction resulting from radiotherapy for uterine cervix cancer or advanced rectal cancer.
<bold>Results.</bold> Complete recovery occurred in patients who underwent laparotomy for rectovaginal fistulas following inflammatory bowel disease or complicating anterior resection of the rectum. Patients operated on using rectal and vaginal approaches displayed positive results, as did those who underwent. fistulectomy with perineal body and anal sphincter reconstruction.
<bold>Conclusions.</bold> Various surgical techniques are available for the management of rectovaginal fistulas depending on their etiology, size, and location. The best results of low rectovaginal fistula treatment occurred using fistulectomy with layer closure and both-sided covering of the tissue defect with advancement vaginal and rectal flaps.
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