Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of rectovaginal fistulas in patients with Crohn's disease: results of the HOT-REVA pilot study

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Positive effects of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) on perianal fistulas in Crohn's disease (CD) have been described, but the effect on rectovaginal fistulas (RVFs) has not yet been studied. The aim was to investigate the efficacy, safety and feasibility of HBO in patients with RVF in CD. METHODS: In this prospective study, consecutive CD patients between November 2018 and February 2020 presenting with RVF at the outpatient fistula clinic of the Amsterdam University Medical Centre were included and selected to receive treatment with 30 daily HBO sessions, if fistulas were actively draining and any concomitant treatment regimen was stable at least 6 weeks prior to start of HBO. Patients with a stoma were excluded. The primary endpoint was clinical closure at 3-month follow-up, defined as cessation of complaints and/or closure of the external orifice if visible at baseline. Secondary outcomes were improvement of concomitant perianal fistulas as measured by the perianal disease activity index (PDAI) and fistula drainage assessment (FDA), as well as improvement in patient-reported outcomes (visual analogue scale (VAS), inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire (IBDQ), faecal incontinence quality of life scale (FIQL) and female sexual functioning index (FSFI)) at 3-month follow-up. RESULTS: Out of 14 eligible patients, nine patients (median age 50 years) were treated, all of whom had previously had one or more unsuccessful medical and/or surgical treatments for their RVF. Clinical closure occurred in none of the patients at 3-month follow-up. There was no improvement in PDAI and patient-reported outcomes (VAS, IBDQ, FIQL and FSFI). Two patients had concomitant perianal fistulas; using FDA, one patient had a clinical response and one patient was in clinical remission 3 months after HBO. There were two treatment-related adverse events during HBO concerning claustrophobia and fatigue. Furthermore, two patients had a surgical intervention due to RVF and two patients were treated with antibiotics for a urinary tract infection during follow-up. One patient had a dose reduction of ustekinumab because of decreased luminal complaints. CONCLUSION: Treatment with HBO was feasible, but in this therapy-refractory cohort without deviating ostomy no clinical closure of RVF or improvement in quality of life was seen 3 months after HBO. Treatment with HBO alone in this specific group of patients therefore appears to be ineffective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBJS Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021

Cite this