Transperineal repair of complex rectourethral fistula using gracilis muscle flap interposition--can urinary and bowel functions be preserved?

Research paper by Gamal G Ghoniem, Mostafa M Elmissiry, Eric E Weiss, Carolyn C Langford, Hassan H Abdelwahab, Steven S Wexner

Indexed on: 21 Mar '08Published on: 21 Mar '08Published in: The Journal of Urology®


Rectourethral fistula developing after prostate cancer treatment is usually complex and difficult to repair. We present our experience with 25 cases of complex rectourethral fistula using gracilis muscle interposition, addressing the efficacy of this technique as well as the postoperative urinary and fecal outcome.After receiving institutional review board approval we performed a retrospective chart review of patients with prostate cancer who had undergone gracilis muscle interposition for complex rectourethral fistula. A 1-page questionnaire was then mailed to all patients to assess urinary and bowel function.At mean followup of 28 months all patients had successful fistula closure with no recurrence. Of the 18 patients (72%) with urinary continence 5 were continent after artificial urinary sphincter implantation. Three patients (12%) were totally incontinent and lost to followup. Four patients (16%) had permanent urinary diversion due to a devastated urinary outlet, while a urethral stricture was found in 5 and bladder neck contracture was noted in 3. Regarding bowel control, 19 patients (76%) were continent, 2 (8%) had fecal incontinence and 4 (16%) required permanent colostomy due to a devastated fecal outlet. A total of 17 patients replied to the mailed questionnaire for a 68% response rate and all had significant improvement in all parameters. Factors predisposing to a suboptimal outcome were large fistula size, surgery followed by radiation and cryotherapy.Gracilis muscle transposition is an excellent procedure for treating complex rectourethral fistula. Several other local factors may affect the postoperative urinary and fecal outcome. The collaboration of colorectal and urological surgeons is necessary to achieve optimal results.