AIM: The study aimed to compare the rate of success and cost of anal fistula plug (AFP) insertion and endorectal advancement flap (ERAF) for anal fistula.
METHOD: Patients receiving an AFP or ERAF for a complex single fistula tract, defined as involving more than a third of the longitudinal length of of the anal sphincter, were registered in a prospective database. A regression analysis was performed of factors predicting recurrence and contributing to cost.
RESULTS: Seventy-one patients (AFP 31, ERAF 40) were analysed. Twelve (39%) recurrences occurred in the AFP and 17 (43%) in the ERAF group (P = 1.00). The median length of stay was 1.23 and 2.0 days (P < 0.001), respectively, and the mean cost of treatment was €5439 ± €2629 and €7957 ± €5905 (P = 0.021), respectively. On multivariable analysis, postoperative complications, underlying inflammatory bowel disease and fistula recurring after previous treatment were independent predictors of de novo recurrence. It also showed that length of hospital stay ≤ 1 day to be the most significant independent contributor to lower cost (P = 0.023).
CONCLUSION: Anal fistula plug and ERAF were equally effective in treating fistula-in-ano, but AFP has a mean cost saving of €2518 per procedure compared with ERAF. The higher cost for ERAF is due to a longer median length of stay.