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18.02.2021 | Review Open Access

A systematic review of the quality of reporting of interventions in the surgical treatment of Crohn’s anal fistula: an assessment using the TIDiER and Blencowe frameworks

Techniques in Coloproctology
S. Tyrell, E. Coates, Steven R. Brown, M. J. Lee
Wichtige Hinweise

Supplementary Information

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10151-020-02359-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Crohn’s anal fistula is a challenging condition, and may require multiple surgical procedures. To replicate successful procedures, these must be adequately reported in the literature. The aim of this study was to review the quality of reporting of components of surgical interventions for Crohn’s anal fistula.


A systematic review was conducted. It was registered with PROSPERO (CRD:42019135157). The Medline and EMBASE databases were searched for studies reporting interventions intended to close fistula in patients with Crohn’s disease, published between 1999 and August 2019. Abstracts and full texts were screened for inclusion by two reviewers. Dual extraction of data was performed to compare reporting to the TIDiER and Blencowe frameworks for reporting of interventions.


Initial searches identified 207 unique studies; 38 full texts were screened for inclusion and 33 were included. The most common study design was retrospective cohort (17/33), and the most frequently reported interventions were anal fistula plug (n = 8) and fibrin glue (n = 6). No studies showed coverage of all domains of TIDieR. Reporting was poor among domains related to who provided an intervention, where it was provided, and how it was tailored. Reporting of domains in the Blencowe framework was poor; the majority of studies did not report the component steps of procedures or efforts to standardise them.


This study demonstrates that reporting on technical aspects of interventions for Crohn’s anal fistula is poor. Surgeons should aim to improve reporting to allow accurate reproduction of techniques both in clinical practice and in clinical trials.

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