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Combined modality treatment for complex fistulating perianal Crohn’s disease


Ramez Antakia, 26 Wansbeck Road, Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, NE32 5ST, UK.


Aim  Perianal disease affects 33% (range 8–90%) of patients with Crohn’s disease. Fistulae are often complex and their management is often difficult and unsatisfactory. This study was a retrospective assessment of a combination of surgical treatment with a standardized protocol of infliximab (IFX) therapy.

Method  A consecutive series of patients with complex perianal Crohn’s disease, presenting between January 2003 and June 2008, were included. Acute sepsis was initially treated with antibiotics and/or surgical drainage (MRI guided when appropriate) and loose seton insertion. IFX was given at 5 mg/kg, at 0, 2 and 6 weeks. End-points were complete, partial or no response. Setons were empirically removed after the second cycle of IFX.

Results  Forty-eight patients, average age 46 (range 24–82) years, with perianal Crohn’s disease were identified. Three patients stopped IFX after the second infusion, either because of allergy (two patients) or for failure to respond (one patient). Fourteen patients were given maintenance IFX at 8-weekly intervals. Results were recorded for 48 patients, of whom 14 (29%) had a complete response, 20 (42%) had a partial response and 14 (29%) had no response to treatment. Outpatient follow-up was for a median of 20 months.

Conclusion  Combining surgical procedures with IFX resulted in complete and partial remission in 29% and 42% of patients, respectively. No serious side effects occurred. Using a combined, intensive medico-surgical approach, good initial control of perianal disease was achieved safely.