Dr Gold is an internal medicine resident in the Department of Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, New York.
Despite significant advances in the treatment of luminal inflammatory bowel disease, the treatment of perianal fistulas remains a clinical challenge. Perianal fistulas are traditionally described using the Parks classification based on their relationship to the external and internal anal sphincters. Traditional therapy for perianal fistulas focuses on antibiotics such as metronidazole or ciprofloxacin. However, medical management has expanded over the years to include immunomodulators and, most recently, biologic agents. Newer techniques such as intrafistulous biologic injections are also being explored as potentially effective treatments for patients with fistulizing disease. Here, in the first of a 2-part series on perianal fistulas in patients with Crohn's disease, we discuss the anatomy and classification of perianal fistulas as well as current medical therapies, including antibiotics, immunomodulators, biologic agents, and novel therapeutic agents. The second part of the series will focus on the surgical modalities that are available for patients with perianal fistulas in addition to novel endoscopic techniques and future therapies that are being investigated for the treatment of fistulizing Crohn's disease.
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