Vesicovaginal fistulae (VVF) repair success rates for simple surgical fistulae are high, but constitute a significantly greater challenge when occurring in a radiotherapy field. We aim to evaluate the causes, assessment, closure rates and functional outcomes of VVF surgery in patients with previous radiotherapy.
Data on all VVF repairs were collected prospectively. A retrospective review of outcomes in those with VVF performed between 2009 and 2018 was carried out. Details including time from radiotherapy, pre-operative assessments, approach to surgery and functional outcome were analysed.
Twenty women with VVFs were identified. The mean age was 59 (range 25-88) years. Primary malignancy was cervical in 16 women, with the remaining 4 women having ovarian, urethral, endometrial and rectal cancer respectively. All women had external beam radiotherapy with 6 (30%) undergoing boosted brachytherapy. Mean interval between radiotherapy and fistula repair was 19 (range 0-40) years. Fistulae arose spontaneously in 14 patients, whereas 6 occurred following a further surgical intervention.Closure was attempted vaginally in 7 women and abdominally in 1, whereas 12 had a primary diversion owing to significant bladder contracture and ureteric involvement. The closure rate in those attempted was 62.5%, 40% in those with spontaneous fistulae compared with 100% for post-surgical fistulae, but only 20% for the total cohort.
Closure of VVF is a significant challenge, with an initial success rate of 20% and an overall success rate of only 25%. Seventy percent required primary or secondary urinary diversion. Vaginal surgery was utilised in the majority to try to avoid a hostile pelvis, but the surgical approach should be tailored to individual circumstances.
International urogynecology journal. 2020 Jan 27 [Epub ahead of print]
Bogdan Toia, Mahreen Pakzad, Rizwan Hamid, Tamsin Greenwell, Jeremy Ockrim
Department of Urology, University College London Hospital at Westmoreland Street, 16-18 Westmoreland Street, London, W1G 8PH, UK. ., Department of Urology, University College London Hospital at Westmoreland Street, 16-18 Westmoreland Street, London, W1G 8PH, UK.