A recent consensus report (AH Steinhart, R Panaccione et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2019; 1-13) provides updated guidelines for the management of perianal fistulizing Crohn’s disease (CD).
As an aside, the article starts off with an extremely lengthy disclosure (of financial interests) –more than 30 lines of extremely small font!
The scope of the problem:
- About 21% of CD patients have developed perianal fistulizing disease by 10 yrs and 26% after 20 years.
- This complication leads to significant morbidity/reduced quality of life and about 70% require surgical treatment during long-term followup.
The substance of the article are summarized in Table 4 and Figure 1. The recommendations all are considered to be based on either low quality of evidence or very low quality of evidence:
- In those with active fistulizing disease, the authors recommend imaging (EUS or MRI)
- In those with evidence of complicated fistulizing disease, “we suggest surgical consultation.”
- In those with active fistulizing CD, “we suggest the use of antibiotic therapy for initial management.”
- In those with active fistulizing CD, “we recommend the use of anti-TNF therapy” for induction and maintenance.
- In those with active fistulizing CD, “when starting anti-TNF therapy, we suggest it be combined with thiopurine or methotrexate over monotherapy to optimize pharmacokinetic parameters.”
- In those with active fistulizing CD, surgical management is recommended in those when there is an inadequate response to medical management.
Some additional pointers:
- Early surgical consultation is recommended in setting of suspected clinical abscess (eg. pain, fever, leukocytosis).
- The authors’ algorithm suggests that if early surgical intervention is not required, then patients should first receive antibiotics for initial symptom control, followed by imaging, and, if uncomplicated fistulizing disease on imaging, followed by anti-TNF therapy (with either MTX or thiopurine). If complicated fistulizing disease, then surgical intervention may be needed prior to institution of anti-TNF therapy.
- “The rate of fistula healing was 43% with medical therapy alone and 53% with combination surgical and medical therapy” based on a systematic review of 8 cohort studies.
My take: This article helps simplify/streamline the approach to this troubling complication.
Related blog posts:
- ADMIRE Study: Use of Stem Cells for Perianal Crohn’s Disease
- IPAA (Pouch) for Crohn’s Disease and Indeterminate Colitis
- Fecal diversion for Perianal Crohn’s Disease
- Tackling Crohn’s Perianal Fistulizing Disease | gutsandgrowth
- Pediatric Consensus Statement: Perianal Crohn Disease …
- Paris Classification of Pediatric Crohn’s Disease | gutsandgrowth
Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist. This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.