Techniques in Coloproctology

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 665–673 | Cite as

Short-term outcomes of radical excision vs. phenolisation of the sinus tract in primary sacrococcygeal pilonidal sinus disease: a randomized-controlled trial

  • A. A. PronkEmail author
  • N. Smakman
  • E. J. B. Furnee
Original Article



Phenolisation of Sacrococcygeal pilonidal sinus disease (SPSD) seems to have advantages over radical excision; however, a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) comparing both techniques is lacking. The aim of our study was to compare sinus pit excision and phenolisation of the sinus tract with radical excision in SPSD in terms of return to normal daily activities.


This study was a single-center RCT. Fifty patients who presented with primary SPSD were randomized to phenolisation and 50 patients to excision. The primary endpoint was time to return to normal daily activities. Secondary endpoints were quality of life, complaints related to SPSD, surgical site infection, and wound epithelialization. Patients were treated in a 1-day surgery setting. Complaints related to SPSD were evaluated and symptoms were scored by the participants on a 6-point scale before surgery, and patients kept a diary for 2 weeks on complaints related to the surgical treatment (the same scoring system as preoperatively) and pain, evaluated with a VAS. Quality of life (QoL) was measured preoperatively with a VAS and the Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36). At 2, 6, and 12 weeks after surgery, patients were evaluated using a questionnaire containing the following items: patients’ satisfaction (disease, compared with preoperatively, scored as cured, improved, unchanged or worsened), five complaints related to the surgical treatment (the same scoring system as preoperatively and in the diary), QoL (VAS and SF-36), and return to normal daily activities. The wound was assessed 2, 6, and 12 weeks postoperatively by one of the investigators (EF or NS), using an assessment form


The mean time to return to normal daily activities was significantly shorter after phenolisation (5.2 ± SD 6.6 days vs. 14.5 ± 25.0 days, p = 0.023). 2 weeks after surgery, all patients in the phenolisation group and 85.4% of patients in the excision group returned to normal daily activities (p = 0.026). Pain was significantly lower after phenolisation at 2 weeks postoperatively (0.8 ± 1.0 vs. 1.6 ± 1.3, p = 0.003). Surgical site infection occurred significantly more often after radical excision (n = 10, 21.7% vs. n = 2, 4.0%, p = 0.020). At 6 and 12 weeks, complete wound epithelialization was more frequently achieved after phenolisation (69.0% vs. 37.0%, p = 0.003 and 81.0% vs. 60.9%, p = 0.039, respectively).


Pit excision with phenolisation of SPSD resulted in a quicker return to normal daily activities, less pain, and quicker wound epithelialization compared to radical excision. Surgeons should consider phenolisation in patients with primary SPSD.


Pilonidal sinus Phenol Minimally invasive surgical procedures Randomized-controlled trial 



Cornelis Visser Stichting.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study has been approved by the local Medical Ethics Committee (United Committees of Human Research, Nieuwegein, the Netherlands; reference number: NL43192.100.13).

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryDiakonessenhuisUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Abdominal SurgeryUniversity Medical Center GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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