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Fistulectomy not healing...?

Hi all, was wondering if any of you could shed some light on my problem...

Female, 29yrs. No symptoms of crohns or IBD. No clue as to why I got a fistula.

I had a fistulectomy and a cutting seton placed 3 weeks ago. My general surgeon is a horrid man. When I went in for me surgery, instead of going over what he was going to do in the OR, he said to me 'I'm assuming you've googled what this surgery is all about' and that was it. No explanation. His "follow up instructions" were to have the packing changed for 5 to 7 days, then to come and see him in his office in 2 weeks...

Its now been 3 weeks and I still have to get my packing changed daily. My nurses have been incredibly helpful and supportive, but we are all stumped at this point. The exterior of the fistulectomy hole is trying to heal over nicely, but the inside of the hole is still large, and will not shrink up or heal. Packing is used to keep the exterior hole from closing over. Lots of drainage still with occasional blood. Bowel movements are back to normal after surgery, and do not cause any pain. My cutting seton is uncomfortable, but not painful. The suture line from the laid open fistulectomy running down to the seton has healed nicely too.

My question is: does anyone have similar stories of their fistulectomy refusing to heal? If so, did you find something that worked? My nurse has recommended I speak to my naturopath doctor, as maybe she has some suggestions. I am also going to try and get a referral to a colorectal surgeon so I can dump my general surgeon asap.

Thanks all.


Well-known member
I went through this several time in my lifetime and I am glad that you were spared the pain. For me each time I had the procedure done I can only describe from one to ten how the pain felt. It was a brutal level 11.
I never had cutting Seton, the surgeon sliced and laid open the fistulectomy and I had the nurse change the packing. This went on for weeks before finally healing up. I had a few that were closing nicely only to open up again as the nurse said that she had to push in more iodine laced packing.
I went through this in my 20's and then had the huge abscess in my 40's forcing me to have a permanent colostomy and had to collect disability and then the early retirement package. After rounds of treatments that included Pred, cipro, aza I got my Crohn's under control. I failed Remicade and now keep things under control mainly with diet and herbs.


Staff member
Be sure not to suffer in silence Harriet. If you feel like you need to, you best see any doctor available. Even if they can only treat your symptoms it's still better than feeling horrible. I hope you are okay.


Well-known member
Get a second opinion, or perhaps a 3rd. I had this happening to me, and over time I ended up with having a colostomy. The area would try to heal, only for the fistulas to open up again. This went on for years with the rise and fall of flares and remission, but then came the huge abscess that forced me to have colostomy surgery. Once on the bag the area has healed up, but not quite completely. At some point down the road I will likely need a full proctectomy. Sorry don't know how to spell it neither does the spell check.
Harriet, I just re-read your note and I realized you have a cutting seton on
As long as you have a cutting seton it will not heal, it's not supposed to.
Once the cutting seton has worked its way through the fistula and falls off, only then will it fully heal.