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Randomized clinical trial comparing botulinum toxin injections with 0·2 per cent nitroglycerin ointment for chronic anal fissure. BJS 2007; 94: 162-167.

Published: 29th January 2007

Authors: G. Brisinda, F. Cadeddu, F. Brandara, G. Marniga, G. Maria

Background

In recent years treatment of chronic anal fissure has shifted from surgical to medical. This study compared the ability of two non‐surgical treatments—botulinum toxin injections and nitroglycerin ointment—to induce healing in patients with idiopathic anal fissure.

Method

One hundred adults were assigned randomly to receive treatment with either type A botulinum toxin (30 units Botox® or 90 units Dysport®) injected into the internal anal sphincter or 0·2 per cent nitroglycerin ointment applied three times daily for 8 weeks.

Results

After 2 months, the fissures were healed in 46 (92 per cent) of 50 patients in the botulinum toxin group and in 35 (70 per cent) of 50 in the nitroglycerin group (P = 0·009). Three patients in the botulinum toxin group and 17 in the nitroglycerin group reported adverse effects (P < 0·001). Those treated with botulinum toxin had mild incontinence to flatus that lasted 3 weeks after treatment but disappeared spontaneously, whereas nitroglycerin treatment was associated with transient, moderate‐to‐severe headaches. Nineteen patients who did not have a response to the assigned treatment crossed over to the other therapy.

Conclusion

Although treatment with either topical nitroglycerin or botulinum toxin is effective as an alternative to surgery for patients with chronic anal fissure, botulinum toxin is the more effective option. Copyright © 2007 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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