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Keywords:

  • fistula;
  • Martius fat pad;
  • omental interposition;
  • repair;
  • urethro-vaginal;
  • vesico-vaginal

OBJECTIVE

To review the outcomes of all patients referred with vesico-vaginal (V VF) and urethro-vaginal (UVF) fistulae to a tertiary centre, and to investigate the patient, fistula and surgical factors relevant to success.

PATIENTS AND METHODS

We reviewed retrospectively the case-notes of 41 consecutive patients (32 with V VF; nine with UVF) treated between January 2000 and January 2006.

RESULTS

All patients were tertiary referrals, eight after failed local repairs. Four patients were unsalvageable and had a supravesical diversion. In all there were 47 repairs (23 transvaginal; 24 transabdominal) on 37 patients by two specialist surgeons. The fistula was closed in 92%; five V VF and one UVF required a second procedure, and one V VF a third procedure. One patient with a V VF awaits a second attempt at repair. In one V VF (one attempt) and one UVF (three attempts) the procedure failed and the patient had a diversion. A transvaginal approach cured all 11 patients with a V VF and eight of nine with a UVF, whilst an abdominal approach used for larger/complex fistulae was successful in 18 of 24 (75%) attempts (P = 0.13). The major determinants of success were fistula size (>3 cm; P = 0.02) and the availability of tissue for interposition. V VF repairs using Martius/omental interposition were mostly successful, whilst abdominal repairs in which omentum was unavailable tended to fail (37.5% cure; P = 0.002).

CONCLUSIONS

Despite varied aetiology, V VF/UVF were repaired successfully in 92% of patients. Complex (V VF) fistulae were challenging and a quarter of these required more than one attempt. Failure of repair was more likely in larger fistulae (>3 cm) requiring an abdominal approach, if omental interposition was not possible. Good-quality tissue interposition for complex fistula is essential for a successful outcome.