New painless, non-surgical treatment for anal fistula

New Delhi: For patients suffering from anal fistula, Video Assisted Anal Fistula Treatment (VAAFT) is a new painless, non-surgical procedure that causes no pain, helps patients recover faster, and cuts down chances of recurrence, say doctors.

VAAFT is an improved surgical procedure and people should prefer it due to it being a painless treatment and which gives no problems in bowel movement after the procedure, experts say.

The treatment requires no incision, making the process friendly and helps the patient restart normal life easily.

“Though there are various ways to treat anal fistula, some are conventional methods, which involve surgery. Treatment practices like fistulutomy/ fistulectomy involve removal of the complete fistula tract with the help of a knife, causing a lot of pain and bleeding,” said Ashish Bhanot, chief bariatric surgeon at Apollo Spectra Hospital.

He said the previous methods caused large wounds and the patient required long hospitalisation and daily dressing, which usually take a long time to heal and require daily treatment. There are also slightly higher chances of recurrence.

On the VAAFT technique, Bhanot said: “Doctors can identify the internal opening of the fistula tract with the help of an endoscope which navigates through the tract under vision.

“The fistula is removed through a special electric current and after removal, the opening is shut with the help of fibrin glue,” he said.

Santosh Ruia, surgeon at Safdarjung Hospital, said: “VAAFT is being done in India with perfection, and has thus attracted a lot of patients from Afghanistan, Middle East and even European countries.”

On post-treatment care, Ruia said: “The most crucial thing is to maintain anal hygiene, toilet hygiene, having sex with protection, avoiding spicy food and excessive sedatives and pain killers.”

He suggested people should immediately get themselves checked if they witness symptoms such as pain, swelling and bleeding while passing stool, pain in bowel movements, difficulty in performing normal activities, reddening on the opening of skin and discharge of pus.

He said a clinical evaluation including a digital rectal examination is well enough to diagnose anal fistula, but many a times tests like MRI, ultrasound, proctoscope, fistula probe and fistulogram are also done to understand the path of the fistula.