Background: Patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) are believed to have more aggressive anorectal abscess and fistula disease. We assessed the types of procedures performed and perioperative complications associated with the surgical management of anorectal abscess and fistula disease in patients with and without CD.
Methods: The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database (ACS-NSQIP, 2005-2010) was used to calculate 30-day outcomes using regression modeling, accounting for demographics, comorbidities and surgical procedures. ICD-9 codes for anorectal abscess or fistula were used for initial selection. Patients were then stratified, based on the presence or absence of underlying CD. Local procedures included incision and drainage of abscesses, fistulotomy and seton placement. Cutaneous fistulas were considered simple, while all others were classified as complex (-vaginal, -urethral and -vesical).
Results: A total of 7,218 patients (mean age 45 years; 64% male) met inclusion criteria, with underlying CD in 345 (4.8%). CD patients were more likely to have a seton placed (9.9 vs 8.2%, P < 0.001) and be on steroids (15.4 vs 4.3%, P < 0.001). Thirty-seven percent of CD patients underwent local procedures, while 46% had a proctectomy and 8% underwent diversion. Fistulotomy was more common in those without underlying CD (16 vs 11%, P < 0.001). The overall complication rate after local treatment was 4.9%, with no difference between patients with and without CD (7.7 vs 4.9%, P = 0.144). This was not affected by fistula type—simple (7.9 vs 3.9%, P = 0.194) vs complex (33 vs 7.1%, P = 0.21)—or when stratified by wound (3.8 vs 2.4%; P = 0.26) or systemic complications (3.8 vs 2.5%; P = 0.53). Yet, complications following emergency procedures were higher in patients with CD (21.4 vs 5.9%, P = 0.047). Factors significantly associated with increased complications were Crohn’s disease (OR = 8.2), lack of functional independence (OR = 2.0), pre-operative weight loss (OR = 2.6) and pre-operative acute renal failure (OR = 5.6). Steroids were also associated with a 1.7-fold increase in complications, independent from CD.
Conclusions: While most patients with anorectal abscess/fistula are treated with local procedures, proctectomy and diversion use is fairly common in those with underlying CD. Although complication rates following elective local procedures for anorectal abscess/fistula are similar in patients with and without CD, they are higher in patients on steroids and in CD patients undergoing emergent procedures.