International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 33, Issue 11, pp 1589–1594 | Cite as

Management of retrorectal supralevator abscess—results of a large cohort

  • Patrick TéouleEmail author
  • Steffen Seyfried
  • Andreas Joos
  • Dieter Bussen
  • Alexander Herold
Original Article



Proximal intersphincteric fistulas with proximal extension causing supralevatoric, retrorectal abscesses are a rare disease. There is only very limited experience, with small groups, and the limited published literature confirms the complexity of diagnostics and treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate transrectal internal abscess drainage as planned definitive treatment.


We retrospectively studied medical records of all patients with the diagnosis of retrorectal abscesses that underwent transrectal internal abscess drainage in the Department of Colo-proctology of the University Medical Centre Mannheim (2003–2012).


One hundred nine patients were operated on retrorectal abscesses, 70 (64.2%) men and 39 (35.8%) women. Mean age was 45.3 years (18–81). In 96 cases (88.1%), only a transrectal internal abscess drainage was performed as planned definitive treatment. Primary healing occurred in 60 patients (62.5%). A second transrectal internal drainage procedure was necessary in 27 cases (28.1%) to assure complete internal drainage. All secondary procedures led to subsequent healing. A combined surgical treatment due to coexisting fistula tracts to the perianal skin or additional ischioanal abscesses was required in 13 patients (11.9%), and an additional seton placement was performed. Nine patients (9.4%) underwent one or more reoperations due to previously unidentified complex coexisting fistulas. Most of these patients were immunosuppressed due to Crohn’s disease. Internal drainage alone was successful in 90.6% with an overall healing rate of 94.5% for the entire population of complex fistulas.


Transrectal internal abscess drainage is a safe and highly successful procedure for treatment of retrorectal abscess, with very low risk of postoperative fecal incontinence. Inflammatory bowel disease and immunosuppressives have a negative impact on the healing process.


Transanal internal abscess drainage Retrorectal abscess Intersphincteric fistula 


Authors’ contributions

PT, SS, and AH participated in the conception and design of the study. PT, SS, and AH performed the research, analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. AJ and DB participated in the revision of the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

384_2018_3094_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (404 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 403 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Surgery, University Medical Centre Mannheim, Medical Faculty MannheimHeidelberg UniversityMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Deutsches End- und DickdarmzentrumMannheimGermany

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