Topical diltiazem ointment in the treatment of chronic anal fissure




Chronic anal fissure has traditionally been treated surgically. Initial enthusiasm for chemical sphincterotomy has waned because of poor outcomes with glyceryl trinitrate ointment. In this study the use of topical 2 per cent diltiazem ointment has been investigated as an alternative method of chemical sphincterotomy.


A prospective assessment of 71 consecutive patients with a chronic anal fissure treated with 2 per cent topical diltiazem ointment for a median duration of 9 (range 2–16) weeks was performed.


Fifty-one patients (75 per cent) experienced healing of the fissure after 2–3 months of treatment with topical diltiazem. Seventeen patients who did not heal were treated for a further 8 weeks with topical diltiazem. Eight of these patients subsequently healed with diltiazem. Fifty-nine of 67 patients who completed follow-up therefore healed on diltiazem ointment. Four patients experienced perianal dermatitis and one patient experienced headaches. No other side-effects were recorded. After a median of 32 (range 14–67) weeks' follow-up following completion of treatment, 27 of 41 patients available remain symptom free. Six of seven patients with recurrent fissure were treated successfully by repeat chemical sphincterotomy.


Topical 2 per cent diltiazem ointment used as an agent for chemical sphincterotomy for chronic anal fissure offers significant healing rates but does not have a significant side-effect profile, which may aid compliance to treatment. Early recurrences are common but usually amenable to further chemical sphincterotomy. © 2001 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd