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1.  The Anal Fistula Plug versus the mucosal advancement flap for the treatment of Anorectal Fistula (PLUG trial) 
BMC Surgery  2008;8:11.
Background
Low transsphincteric fistulas less than 1/3 of the sphincter complex are easy to treat by fistulotomy with a high success rate. High transsphincteric fistulas remain a surgical challenge. Various surgical procedures are available, but recurrence rates of these techniques are disappointingly high. The mucosal flap advancement is considered the gold standard for the treatment of high perianal fistula of cryptoglandular origin by most colorectal surgeons. In the literature a recurrence rate between 0 and 63% is reported for the mucosal flap advancement. Recently Armstrong and colleagues reported on a new biologic anal fistula plug, a bioabsorbable xenograft made of lyophilized porcine intestinal submucosa. Their prospective series of 15 patients with high perianal fistula treated with the anal fistula plug showed promising results.
The anal fistula plug trial is designed to compare the anal fistula plug with the mucosal flap advancement in the treatment of high perianal fistula in terms of success rate, continence, postoperative pain, and quality of life.
Methods/design
The PLUG trial is a randomized controlled multicenter trial. Sixty patients with high perianal fistulas of cryptoglandular origin will be randomized to either the fistula plug or the mucosal advancement flap. Study parameters will be anorectal fistula closure-rate, continence, post-operative pain, and quality of life. Patients will be followed-up at two weeks, four weeks, and 16 weeks. At the final follow-up closure rate is determined by clinical examination by a surgeon blinded for the intervention.
Discussion
Before broadly implementing the anal fistula plug results of randomized trials using the plug should be awaited. This randomized controlled trial comparing the anal fistula plug and the mucosal advancement flap should provide evidence regarding the effectiveness of the anal fistula plug in the treatment of high perianal fistulas.
Trial registration
ISRCTN: 97376902
doi:10.1186/1471-2482-8-11
PMCID: PMC2467399  PMID: 18573198
2.  Perioperative strategy in colonic surgery; LAparoscopy and/or FAst track multimodal management versus standard care (LAFA trial) 
BMC Surgery  2006;6:16.
Background
Recent developments in large bowel surgery are the introduction of laparoscopic surgery and the implementation of multimodal fast track recovery programs. Both focus on a faster recovery and shorter hospital stay.
The randomized controlled multicenter LAFA-trial (LAparoscopy and/or FAst track multimodal management versus standard care) was conceived to determine whether laparoscopic surgery, fast track perioperative care or a combination of both is to be preferred over open surgery with standard care in patients having segmental colectomy for malignant disease.
Methods/design
The LAFA-trial is a double blinded, multicenter trial with a 2 × 2 balanced factorial design. Patients eligible for segmental colectomy for malignant colorectal disease i.e. right and left colectomy and anterior resection will be randomized to either open or laparoscopic colectomy, and to either standard care or the fast track program. This factorial design produces four treatment groups; open colectomy with standard care (a), open colectomy with fast track program (b), laparoscopic colectomy with standard care (c), and laparoscopic surgery with fast track program (d). Primary outcome parameter is postoperative hospital length of stay including readmission within 30 days. Secondary outcome parameters are quality of life two and four weeks after surgery, overall hospital costs, morbidity, patient satisfaction and readmission rate.
Based on a mean postoperative hospital stay of 9 +/- 2.5 days a group size of 400 patients (100 each arm) can reliably detect a minimum difference of 1 day between the four arms (alfa = 0.95, beta = 0.8). With 100 patients in each arm a difference of 10% in subscales of the Short Form 36 (SF-36) questionnaire and social functioning can be detected.
Discussion
The LAFA-trial is a randomized controlled multicenter trial that will provide evidence on the merits of fast track perioperative care and laparoscopic colorectal surgery in patients having segmental colectomy for malignant disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2482-6-16
PMCID: PMC1693570  PMID: 17134506

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