Medical Policies - Surgery

Plugs for Fistula Repair


Effective Date:07-15-2018



Biosynthetic fistula plugs, including plugs made of porcine small intestine submucosa or of synthetic material, are considered experimental, investigational and/or unproven for all indications including, but not limited to, repair of anal fistulas.


A fistula is an abnormal connection between two epithelialized surfaces, such as blood vessels, intestines, or other hollow organs. Some causes of fistulas include tuberculosis, cancer, prior radiotherapy, injury, surgery, and inflammatory bowel disease, but they also may be surgically created for a therapeutic purpose. Fistulas may occur singly or in multiples.

An anal fistula is an abnormal communication between the interior of the anal canal or rectum and the skin surface. Rarer forms may communicate with the vagina or other pelvic structures, including the bowel. Most fistulas begin as anorectal abscesses, which are thought to arise from infection in the glands around the anal canal. When the abscess opens spontaneously in the anal canal (or has been opened surgically), a fistula may occur. Studies have reported that 26% to 37% of cases of perianal abscesses eventually form anal fistulas. (1) Symptoms include a purulent discharge and drainage of pus and/or stool near the anus, which can irritate the outer tissues causing itching and discomfort. Pain occurs when fistulas become blocked and abscesses recur. Flatus may also escape from the fistulous tract

The most widely used classification of anal fistulas is the Parks classification system, which defines anal fistulas by their position relative to the anal sphincter as transsphincteric, intersphincteric, suprasphincteric, or extrasphincteric. More simply, anal fistulas are described as low (present distally and not extending up to the anorectal sling) or high (extending up to or beyond the anorectal sling). Repair of high fistulas can be associated with incontinence. Diagnosis may involve a fistula probe, anoscopy, fistulography, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


Treatment is aimed at repairing the fistula without compromising continence.

Surgical treatments for anal fistulas include fistulotomy or fistulectomy, endorectal or anal sliding flaps, ligation of the intersphincteric fistula tract (LIFT) technique, seton drain, and fibrin glue. Fistulotomy involves division of the tissue over the fistula and laying open of the fistula tract. Although fistulotomies are widely used for low fistulas, lay-open fistulotomies in high fistulas carry the risk of incontinence. A seton is a thread placed through the fistula tract to drain fistula material and preventing the development of a perianal infection. Draining setons can control sepsis, but few patients heal after removal of the seton, and the procedure is poorly tolerated long-term. A “cutting seton” refers to the process of regular tightening of the seton to encourage gradual cutting of the sphincteric muscle with subsequent inflammation and fibrosis. Cutting setons can cause continence disturbances. Endorectal advancement flaps involve the advancement of a full or partial thickness flap of the proximal rectal wall over the internal (rectal) opening of the fistula tract. The intersphincteric fistula tract technique involves identifying the intersphincteric plane and then dividing the fistula tract; its use has been reported in small studies, but long-term follow-up is unavailable. (2) Fibrin glue is a combination of fibrinogen, thrombin, and calcium in a matrix, which is injected into the fistula track. The glue induces clot formation within the tract, which is then closed through the overgrowth of new tissue.

Fistula Plugs

Fistula plugs are designed to provide a structure that acts as a scaffold for new tissue growth. The scaffold, which can be derived from animal (e.g., porcine) tissue or a synthetic copolymer fiber, is degraded by hydrolytic or enzymatic pathways as healing progresses. The plug is pulled through the fistula tract and secured at the fistula’s proximal opening; the fistula tract is left open at the distal opening to allow drainage. Several fistula plugs have been cleared for marketing by the United States (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (see Regulatory Status section). A fistula plug derived from autologous cartilage tissue has been investigated in a small (n=10) pilot study. (3)

Regulatory Status

Several plugs for fistula repair have received clearance for marketing from the U.S. FDA through the 510(k) process and are outlined in Table 1.

Table 1. Devices for Fistula Repair





Predicate Device(s)

FDA Product Code

SIS Fistula Plug

(Cook Biotech)



Manufactured from porcine SIS

Repair of anal, rectal, and entero-cutaneous fistulas

SURGISIS® Soft Tissue Graft (Cook Biotech)

STRATASIS® Urethral Sling (Cook Biotech)


Surgisis RVP Recto-Vaginal Fistula Plug

(Cook Biotech)



Manufactured from porcine SIS

Tapered configuration with a button to provide increased plug blockage of the fistula

Reinforce soft tissue for repair of rectovaginal fistulas

SIS Fistula Plug (Cook Biotech)


Surgisis Biodesign Enterocutaneous Fistula Plug

(Cook Biotech)



Manufactured from porcine SIS

Tapered configuration with a flange to provide increased retention of the plug and improved blockage of the fistula

Reinforce soft tissue for repair of entero-cutaneous fistulas

SIS Fistula Plug (Cook Biotech)


Gore Bio-A Fistula Plug

(W.L. Gore & Assoc.)



Manufactured from bioabsorb-able PGA:TMC copolymer

Supplied in a 3-dimensional configuration of a disk with attached tubes

Reinforce soft tissue for repair of anorectal fistulas

Gore Bioabsorb-able Mesh (W.L. Gore & Assoc.)

SIS Fistula Plug (Cook Biotech)


Biodesign Anal Fistula Plug (Cook Biotech)

May 2016

Manufactured from porcine SIS

Additional wash steps added in processing

Reinforce soft tissue where a rolled configuration is required to repair anal, rectal, and enterocutaneo-us fistulas

SIS Fistula Plug (Cook Biotech)


Biodesign Fistula Plug (Cook Biotech)

June 2017

Manufactured from porcine SIS

Reinforce soft tissue for repair of rectovaginal or anorectal fistulas

SIS Fistula Plug (Cook Biotech)


FDA: Food and Drug Administration; PGA:TMC; polyglycolide-co-trimethylene carbonate; SIS: small intestinal submucosa


This policy was created in 2007 and has been updated regularly with searches of the MEDLINE database. The most recent literature update was performed through June 14, 2018.

Assessment of efficacy for therapeutic intervention involves a determination of whether an intervention improves health outcomes. The optimal study design for this purpose is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that includes clinically relevant measures of health outcomes. Intermediate outcome measures, also known as surrogate outcome measures, may also be adequate if there is an established link between the intermediate outcome and true health outcomes. Nonrandomized comparative studies and uncontrolled studies can sometimes provide useful information on health outcomes but are prone to biases such as noncomparability of treatment groups, placebo effect, and variable natural history of the condition.

Anal Fistula Repair

Conventional treatments for anal fistulas include fistulotomy or fistulectomy, endorectal or anal sliding flaps, seton drains, and fibrin glue. Evidence for new treatments must allow comparison with conventional treatment on outcomes including symptoms, change in disease status, morbid events, functional outcomes (i.e., sphincter function), and treatment-related morbidity (i.e., fistula recurrence).

Systematic Reviews

At least 9 systematic reviews have been undertaken on anal fistula plugs (AFPs).

In 2016, Narang et al. published a systematic review of the Gore Bio-A plug for anal fistulas, which included 6 studies (total N=221 patients) in a qualitative synthesis. (4) Fistula healing rates ranged from 15.8% to 72.7%. Reviewers assessed the overall quality of the underlying studies as poor.

In 2016, Nasseri et al. reported on a systematic review of AFP for patients with Crohn disease and anal fistulas. (5) Twelve studies were included: 8 nonrandomized prospective studies and 4 retrospective studies (total N=84 patients; range, 1-20 per study). Due to study heterogeneity, reviewers did not perform a weighted analysis with summary efficacy estimates. The total success rate of AFPs was 49 (58.3%) of 84 placed (95% confidence interval [CI], 47% to 69%).

Also in 2016, Xu et al. reported on a meta-analysis of 10 comparative studies of AFPs and mucosal advancement flaps (MAFs) for complex anal fistulas (total N=778 patients). (6) Three studies were randomized trials; the remaining were observational studies or did not describe designs. In the pooled analysis, there were no significant differences in healing rates at the end of follow-up between the AFP and MAF groups (odds ratio [OR], 0.79; 95% CI, 0.36 to 1.73; p=0.55, I2=74%). None the 7 studies reporting on recurrence rates found significant differences in recurrence rates (OR=2.29; 95% CI, 0.59 to 8.88; p=0.23, I2=83%). However, conclusions were limited by shortcomings in the underlying evidence base.

In 2013, Cirocchi et al. published results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that compared biologically derived products for fistula repair, including fibrin glue, AFPs, and acellular dermal matrix, with surgical therapy for fistula repair. (7) Seven studies met eligibility criteria, four of which compared AFPs with surgery, and two of which were RCTs (RCTs; Ortiz et al. [2009] [8], and van Koperen et al. [2011] [9], are described in the RCT section described below). In the combined analysis, AFP placement did not differ significantly from surgical treatment regarding rates of healing (pooled relative risk, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.51 to 2.76). Recurrence of anal fistulas did not differ significantly between patients treated with AFP and those treated with surgery, although the CI for the pooled analysis was very wide (pooled OR=3.12; 95% CI, 0.52 to 18.83).

In 2012, 3 reviews compared AFP with conventional surgical treatment for anal fistulas. (10-12) Pu et al. undertook a meta-analysis of 5 studies (2 RCTs, 3 retrospective studies) published through April 2012. Treatment options in the conventional arm included endorectal or mucosal advancement flaps, fibrin glue, and seton drains. (10) The 2 RCTs included Ortiz et al. (2009) (8) and van Koperen et al. (2011). (9) On combined analysis (5 studies, 428 patients). AFP patients had a higher recurrence rate (62%) than those undergoing conventional treatment options (47%; p=0.004) after 3-month follow- up (OR=1.91; 95% CI, 1.23 to 2.97).

Leng and Jin (2012) undertook a meta-analysis of 6 studies published through April 2011 (3 RCTs, 2 retrospective studies, 1 cohort study) involving 408 patients comparing AFP with MAF. (11) Two RCTs in this analysis were included by Pu et al. (previously described); the third RCT was a Chinese trial of 90 patients comparing AFP (manufactured in China with design similar to the SURGISIS) with the MAF. On combined analysis, the differences in the overall success rates (6 studies) and incidence of fistula recurrence (4 studies including 3 RCTs) did not differ statistically significant between AFP and MAF (risk difference [RD], -0.12; 95% CI, -0.39 to 0.14; RD, 0.13; 95% CI, -0.18 to 0.43, respectively). (11) The risk of continence postoperatively (3 studies including 2 RCTs), however, was reported to be lower with AFP (RD, -0.08; 95% CI, 0.15 to -0.02). In addition to the small numbers of controlled studies and limited follow-ups, the studies in this meta-analysis had significant heterogeneity. (11)

O’Riordan et al. (2012) conducted a systematic review of AFP (20 studies including the RCTs by Ortiz and van Koperan) for patients with Crohn and non-Crohn-related anal fistulas. (12) The follow-up period across studies ranged from 3 to 24.5 months. The pooled proportion of patients achieving fistula closure in those with non-Crohn anal fistula (0.54; 95% CI, 0.50 to 0.59) was similar to that in those with Crohn disease (0.55; 95% CI, 0.39 to 0.70). There were no reported cases of significant change in continence after AFP insertion in any study patients (total N=196 patients). Review findings were limited by the variability of operative technique and perioperative care across studies, which may have influenced the probability of success or failure associated with the AFP.

A 2010 systematic review reported a wide range of success rates. (13) In the 12-case series selected, reported success rates for the AFP procedure ranged from 24% to 92%. Success rates in treating complex fistula-in-ano in the 8 prospective studies reviewed were 35% to 87%. The complications of abscess formation and/or sepsis ranged from 4% to 29%, and plug extrusion rates ranged from 4% to 41%.

In a 2010 Cochrane review of surgical intervention for anorectal fistula, Jacob et al. found few randomized trials comparing procedures for surgical repair. (14) The AFP procedure was noted as needing further study with randomized trials.

Section Summary: Systematic Reviews of AFPs

Several systematic reviews of studies of AFP repair have demonstrated a wide range of success rates and heterogeneity in study results. The net benefit of a strategy using AFPs compared with open surgical repair is unknown given a lack of high-quality trials and uncertainty related to the tradeoffs between a less invasive procedure and a higher fistula recurrence rate.

Randomized Controlled Trials

In 2016, Senejoux et al. reported on an RCT comparing AFP with seton removal alone in 106 patients who had Crohn disease with non- or mildly active disease but at least 1 anoperitoneal fistula drained for at least 1 month. (15) The trial was powered for the superiority of AFP, and analysis was intention-to-treat. At 12 weeks of follow-up, in the AFP group (n=54), the clinical remission rate was 31.5% compared with 23.1% in the control group (relative risk, 1.31; 95% CI, 0.59 to 4.02; p=0.19). Fistula tract healing rates on magnetic resonance imaging did not differ significantly between groups at 12 weeks.

Ortiz et al. (2009) compared the use of porcine submucosal (Surgisis) AFPs with an endorectal anal flap (ERAF) procedure in an RCT of 43 patients with high anal fistula. (8) The primary end point was fistula healing. Recurrence was defined as the presence of an abscess in the same area or obvious evidence of fistulization. Five patients in the AFP group and 6 in the ERAF group did not receive the allocated intervention, leaving 32 patients. One patient in the AFP group was lost to follow-up. A large number of fistula recurrences in the fistula plug group led to the premature closure of the trial. After 1 year, fistula recurrence was seen in 12 of 15 patients treated with an AFP versus 2 of 16 patients who underwent the flap procedure (relative risk [RR], 6.40; 95% CI, 1.70 to 23.97; p<0.001). A trend for more sphincter involvement and more women in the ERAF group was noted. Complications were not reported.

Van Koperen et al. (2011) reported on a double-blinded, multicenter, randomized trial comparing AFP with mucosal advancement flap in 60 patients with high perianal fistulas. (9) At 11-month follow-up, trialists reported fistula recurrence in 22 (71%) patients in the AFP group and 15 (52%) patients in the advancement flap group; these rates did not differ significantly (p=0.126). Postoperative pain scores, quality of life after surgery, and functional outcomes did not differ significantly between groups. Despite disappointing results, trialists indicated the plug might be considered as an initial treatment option because the procedure is simple and minimally invasive.

Section Summary: RCTs of AFPs

Two relatively small RCTs have compared AFP with surgical flap treatment for anal fistulas, one of which reported significantly higher rates of fistula recurrence with AFP while the other found similar rates of recurrence between AFP and surgical treatment. Larger RCTs are needed to determine the comparative efficacy of AFPs and surgical repair. An additional RCT has compared AFP with seton drain removal alone for fistulizing Crohn disease, with no significant difference reported between groups.

Nonrandomized Comparative Studies

A number of nonrandomized studies have compared AFP with alternative treatments for anal fistula. In one of the larger, prospective studies, Hyman et al. (2009) reported on outcomes data for various procedures to treat anal fistulas in 245 patients at 13 hospitals. (16) Data were collected as part of a prospective, multicenter outcomes registry. Fistulotomy was the most frequently performed procedure (n=120), followed by fistula plug (n=43), staged fistulotomy (n=36), seton drain only (n=21), cutting seton (n=13), fibrin glue (n=5), and advancement flap (n=4). Three patients were listed as other or unrecorded. At 1 month and 3 months, 19.5% and 63.2% of patients were healed, respectively. At 3 months, 32% of fistula plug patients had healed compared with 87% of fistulotomy, 50% of staged fistulotomy, and 5% of seton drain-only patients. The authors noted limitations to this registry-based study, including concerns about data entry, lack of standardized surgical procedures, and heterogeneity among patients. The 3-month results may also indicate longer healing times might be required.

Hall et al. (2014) reported results from another larger multicenter registry study of prospectively collected data for 240 anal fistula surgeries, including those conducted with AFPs. (17) Rates of utilization of fistulotomy, ligation of the intersphincteric fistula tract (LIFT) technique, advancement flap, AFP placement, draining seton, and cutting seton were 61%, 18%, 6.3%, 4.2%, 8.3%, and 0.83%, respectively. The healing rate for patients treated with AFPs was 20% (95% CI, 5% to 50%) compared with 95% after fistulotomy (95% CI, 89% to 97%), 79% after intersphincteric fistula tract technique (95% CI, 65% to 88%), 100% after cutting seton placement (95% CI, 34% to 100%), and 60% after endorectal advancement flap (95% CI, 33% to 77%).

Several smaller or retrospective studies have also compared AFP with alternative treatments. Fisher et al. (2015) retrospectively evaluated success rates after AFP (n=31) or endorectal advancement flap (n=40) in patients with anal fistula treated at a single institution from 2007 to 2012. (18) For patients treated after May 2007; the Surgisis AFP was available. More patients treated with AFP had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; 29.0% vs 5.0%; p=0.008). During follow-up, 12 (39%) patients treated with AFP and 17 (43%) treated with endorectal advancement flap had fistula recurrence (OR=0.94; 95% CI, 0.32 to 2.72; p=1.00). Rates of complications did not differ significantly between groups.

Christoforidis et al. (2009) retrospectively analyzed patients from a U.S. center with transsphincteric fistulas treated with ERAF (n=43) or anal plug (Surgisis) (n=37) between 1996 and 2007. (19) Success was defined as closed external opening in the absence of symptoms at minimal follow-up of 6 months. The success rate was 63% in the ERAF group and 32% in the AFP group after a mean follow-up of 56 months (range, 6-136 months) for ERAF and 14 months (range, 6-22 months) for AFP. After exclusion of patients with early AFP extrusion, which may be considered a technical failure, the ERAF advantage was not statistically significance (p=0.06). Twenty-three of 27 patients who had ERAF and 7 of 12 patients who had AFP responded to a questionnaire addressing functional outcomes. In the ERAF group, 11 of 23 patients had no continence disturbance vs 6 of 7 in the AFP group. The lack of prospectively collected incontinence scores before the procedure and low response rate in the AFP group do not permit valid comparisons on functional outcomes. Complication rates were low in both groups; only 2 patients in the ERAF group required reoperation for bleeding. The authors concluded that “randomized trials are needed to further elucidate the efficacy and potential functional benefit of AFP in the treatment of complex anal fistulas.”

Wang et al. (2009) compared outcomes for patients who had transsphincteric fistulas treated using an AFP from 2005 to 2006 (n=29) with historical controls treated with ERAF (2001-2005) (n=26). (20) Of 26 initial flap procedures, 10 failed and 16 healed. Of 29 initial plug procedures, 19 failed and 10 healed. In total, 30 advancement flaps and 34 plug procedures were performed (including additional treatments for failed initial procedures). Closure rates were 34% for plugs (mean follow-up, 279 days; range, 110-690 days) and 62% for flaps (median follow-up, 819 days; range, 93-1928 days; p=0.045). Complications were not reported. The authors concluded that a systematic randomized trial with long-term follow-up comparing advancement flaps with fistula plugs was needed, and they calculated that 112 patients would have to be randomized to detect a statistically significant difference in success rates for each procedure.

A 2009 retrospective study of 232 patients treated in Canada between 1997 and 2008 using various methods for high transsphincteric anal fistulas was reported by Chung et al. (21) Postoperative healing rates at the 12-week follow-up for the fistula plug, fibrin glue, flap advancement, and seton drain groups were 59%, 39%, 60%, and 33%, respectively. The authors concluded that closure of the primary fistula opening using an AFP and flap advancement resulted in similar fistula healing rates in this patients group and that these strategies were superior to seton placement and fibrin glue. The 12-week follow-up in this study was likely too short to evaluate the durability of treatment.

Section Summary: Nonrandomized Comparative Studies

Nonrandomized comparative studies have reported variability in rates of healing after AFP compared with other fistula closure methods. These studies are limited by patient heterogeneity and relatively short-term follow-up durations.

Noncomparative Studies

Retrospective and prospective studies have reported on outcomes after AFP placement. Two larger noncomparative studies are by Stamos et al. and Blom et al. (22, 23) Stamos et al. (2015) prospectively evaluated healing rates after treatment with a bioabsorbable AFP among 93 patients with complex transsphincteric anal fistulas. (22) Seventy-three (78%) patients also received draining setons preoperatively at the surgeon’s discretion. Over the 1-year follow-up, 13 patients were lost and 21 patients withdrew, most often for an alternative treatment. Of the 66 patients examined 6 months after plug implantation, 30 had a healed fistula. Of the 55 patients examined 12 months after plug implantation, 36 had a healed fistula, but plug implantation failed in 18 patients before the 12-month visit. Overall continence scores improved from presurgery baseline to 6 months postsurgery.

Blom et al. (2014) retrospectively analyzed outcomes after AFP placement (with the Biodesign plug) at 4 hospitals. (23) They identified 126 patients who underwent AFP placement and were followed for a median of 13 months (range, 1-7 months). At the last assessment, 30 (24%) of 126 patients had no symptoms indicative of fistula (pain at the fistula site or drainage). Anterior fistulas were less likely to have successful closure (12%) than posterior (32%) or lateral (41%) fistulas.

Section Summary: Noncomparative Studies

Noncomparative studies evaluating outcomes after AFP have demonstrated a range of fistula recurrence rates postprocedure. These types of studies provide limited information on the relative performance of AFP compared with standard treatments for anal fistulas.

Other Types of Fistulas

Other studies have reported treatment of very small numbers of patients with rectovaginal fistulas, endoscopic treatment of postoperative enterocutaneous fistulas after bariatric surgery, colocutaneous fistulas, and recurrent tracheoesophageal fistulas treated with a fistula plug. (26-32)

Ongoing and Unpublished Clinical Trials

Some currently unpublished trials that might influence this policy are listed in Table 2.

Table 2. Summary of Key Trials

NCT Number

Trial Name

Planned Enrollment

Completion Date



Surgisis® anal fistula plug versus surgeon’s preference (advancement flap, fistulotomy, cutting seton) for transsphincteric fistula-in-ano: a multicentre phase III randomised controlled trial


May 2017 (ongoing)



Ligation of Intersphincteric Fistula Tract (LIFT) Versus LIFT-plug Procedure for Anal Fistula Repair: a Multicenter, Randomized, Open-label, Parallel Controlled Trial


Nov 2013


NCT: national clinical trial.

a Denotes industry-sponsored or cosponsored trial

Summary of Evidence

For individuals who have anal fistula(s) who receive placement of an anal fistula plug (AFP), the evidence includes 3 randomized controlled (RCTs), a number of comparative and noncomparative nonrandomized studies, and systematic reviews of these studies. Relevant outcomes are symptoms, change in disease status, morbid events, functional outcomes, and treatment-related morbidity. Two RCTs comparing AFP with surgical flap treatment have reported disparate findings: one found significantly higher rates of fistula recurrence with AFP; the other found similar rates of recurrence for AFP and surgical treatment. Another RCT which compared AFP with seston drain removal alone for patients with fistulizing Crohn disease, found no significant difference in healing rates at 12 weeks between groups. Systematic reviews of AFP repair have demonstrated a wide range of success rates and heterogeneity in study results. Nonrandomized studies have also reported conflicting results. Additionally, the evidence to support the use of fistula plugs to treat other types of fistulas is lacking. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects of the technology on health outcomes.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons

The 2016 practice guidelines on the treatment of anorectal abscess, fistula-in-ano, and rectovaginal fistula from the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons provided a weak recommendation with moderate-quality evidence. (33) With recent evidence of success rates less than 50% in most studies for the treatment of complex anal fistulas with an anal fistula plug, the guidelines concluded that the fistula plug is relatively ineffective in the treatment of fistula-in-ano.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) updated its guidance on the suturable bioprosthetic plug in 2011. (34) The institute determined that while there are no major safety concerns, evidence on the efficacy of the procedure is not adequate for it to be used without special arrangements.


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Procedure and diagnosis codes on Medical Policy documents are included only as a general reference tool for each policy. They may not be all-inclusive.

The presence or absence of procedure, service, supply, device or diagnosis codes in a Medical Policy document has no relevance for determination of benefit coverage for members or reimbursement for providers. Only the written coverage position in a medical policy should be used for such determinations.

Benefit coverage determinations based on written Medical Policy coverage positions must include review of the member’s benefit contract or Summary Plan Description (SPD) for defined coverage vs. non-coverage, benefit exclusions, and benefit limitations such as dollar or duration caps.


The following codes may be applicable to this Medical policy and may not be all inclusive.

CPT Codes

43305, 43312, 44640, 46707, 57300, 57305, 57307, 57308



ICD-9 Diagnosis Codes

Refer to the ICD-9-CM manual

ICD-9 Procedure Codes

Refer to the ICD-9-CM manual

ICD-10 Diagnosis Codes

Refer to the ICD-10-CM manual

ICD-10 Procedure Codes

Refer to the ICD-10-CM manual

Medicare Coverage:

The information contained in this section is for informational purposes only. HCSC makes no representation as to the accuracy of this information. It is not to be used for claims adjudication for HCSC Plans.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not have a national Medicare coverage position. Coverage may be subject to local carrier discretion.

A national coverage position for Medicare may have been developed since this medical policy document was written. See Medicare's National Coverage at <>.


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2. Campbell ML, Abboud EC, Dolberg ME, et al. Treatment of refractory perianal fistulas with ligation of the intersphincteric fistula tract: preliminary results. Am Surg. Jul 2013; 79(7):723-727. PMID 23816007

3. Ozturk E. Treatment of recurrent anal fistula using an autologous cartilage plug: a pilot study. Tech Coloproctol. May 2015; 19(5):301-307. PMID 25850629

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5. Nasseri Y, Cassella L, Berns M et al. The anal fistula plug in Crohn's disease patients with fistula-in-ano: a systematic review. Colorectal Dis. Apr 2016; 18(4):351-356. PMID 26749385

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7. Cirocchi R, Trastulli S, Morelli U et al. The treatment of anal fistulas with biologically derived products: is innovation better than conventional surgical treatment? An update. Tech Coloproctol. Jun 2013; 17(3):259-273. PMID 23207714

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9. van Koperen PJ, Bemelman WA, Gerhards MF et al. The anal fistula plug treatment compared with the mucosal advancement flap for cryptoglandular high transsphincteric perianal fistula: a double-blinded multicenter randomized trial. Dis Colon Rectum. Apr 2011; 54(4):387-393. PMID 21383557

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19. Christoforidis D, Pieh MC, Madoff RD et al. Treatment of transsphincteric anal fistulas by endorectal advancement flap or collagen fistula plug: a comparative study. Dis Colon Rectum. 2009; 52(1):18-22. PMID 19273951

20. Wang JY, Garcia-Aguilar J, Sternberg JA et al. Treatment of transsphincteric anal fistulas: are fistula plugs an acceptable alternative? Dis Colon Rectum. 2009; 52(4):692-7. PMID 19404076

21. Chung W, Kazemi P, Ko D et al. Anal fistula plug and fibrin glue versus conventional treatment in repair of complex anal fistulas. Am J Surg. 2009; 197(5):604-8. PMID 19393353

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23. Blom J, Husberg-Sellberg B, Lindelius A et al. Results of collagen plug occlusion of anal fistula: a multicentre study of 126 patients. Colorectal Dis. Aug 2014; 16(8):626-630. PMID 24506192

24. Cintron JR, Abcarian H, Chaudhry V et al. Treatment of fistula-in-ano using a porcine small intestinal submucosa anal fistula plug. Tech Coloproctol. Apr 2013; 17(2):187-191. PMID 23053440

25. Tan KK, Kaur G, Byrne CM et al. Long-term outcome of the anal fistula plug for anal fistula of cryptoglandular origin. Colorectal Dis. Dec 2013; 15(12):1510-1514. PMID 23981140

26. Gonsalves S, Sagar P, Lengyel J et al. Assessment of the efficacy of the rectovaginal button fistula plug for the treatment of ileal pouch-vaginal and rectovaginal fistulas. Dis Colon Rectum. Nov 2009; 52(11):1877-81. PMID 19966636

27. Gajsek U, McArthur DR, Sagar PM. Long-term efficacy of the button fistula plug in the treatment of ileal pouch-vaginal and Crohn’s-related rectovaginal fistulas. Dis Colon Rectum. Aug 2011; 54(8):999-1002. PMID 21730789

28. Toussaint E, Eisendrath P, Kwan V et al. Endoscopic treatment of postoperative enterocutaneous fistulas after bariatric surgery with the use of a fistula plug: report of five cases. Endoscopy. June 2009; 41(6):560-563. PMID 19533563

29. Crespo Vallejo E, Martinez-Galdamez M, Del Olmo Martinez L et al. Percutaneous treatment of a duodenocutaneous high-flow fistula using a new biological plug. Diagn Interv Radiol. May-June 2015; 21(3):247-251. PMID 25835076

30. Miranda LE, Sabat BD, Carvalho EA. A low-output colocutaneous fistula healed by Surgisis anal plug. Tech Coloproctol. Dec 2009; 13(4):315-316. PMID 19652908

31. Truong S, Bohm G, Klinge U et al. Results after endoscopic treatment of postoperative upper gastrointestinal fistulas and leaks using combined Vicryl plug and fibrin glue. Surg Endosc. July 2004; 18(7):1105-1108. PMID 15156390

32. Filgate R, Thomas A, Ballal M. Treatment of foregut fistula with biologic plugs. Surg Endosc. 2015; 29(7):2006-2012. PMID 25427409

33. Vogel JD, Johnson EK, Morris AM et al. Clinical practice guideline for the management of anorectal abscess, fistula-in-ano, and rectovaginal fistula. Dis Colon Rectum. Dec 2016; 59(12):1117-1133. PMID 27824697

34. National Institutes for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Closure of anal fistula using a suturable bioprosthetic plug. November 2011. Available online at: <>. Last accessed July 13, 2015.

35. Plugs for Anal Fistula Repair. Chicago, Illinois: Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Medical Policy Reference Manual. (November 2017). Surgery 7.01.123.

Policy History:

Date Reason
7/15/2018 Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged . References 4-6, 15, and 32-33 added.
4/15/2017 Reviewed. No changes.
4/15/2016 Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged.
4/15/2015 Reviewed. No changes.
1/1/2014 Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged. CPT/HCPCS code(s) updated.
8/15/2011 Document updated with literature review. Coverage language changed as follows: Biosynthetic fistula plugs, including plugs made of porcine small intestine submucosa or of synthetic material are considered experimental, investigational and unproven for all indications including, but not limited to, repair of anal and rectal fistulas. Complete revision of description and rationale. Codes updated.
5/1/2009 Revised/updated entire document
2/15/2007 New medical document

Archived Document(s):

Title:Effective Date:End Date:
Plugs for Fistula Repair07-15-201803-31-2019
Plugs for Fistula Repair04-15-201707-14-2018
Plugs for Fistula Repair04-15-201604-14-2017
Plugs for Fistula Repair04-15-201504-14-2016
Plugs for Fistula Repair01-01-201404-14-2015
Plugs for Fistula Repair08-15-201112-31-2013
Anorectal Fistula Repair Using an Acellular Xenogeneic Plug05-01-200908-14-2011
Anorectal Fistula Repair Using an Acellular Xenogeneic Plug02-15-200704-30-2009
Anorectal Fistula Repair using an Acellular Xenogeneic Plug01-01-200702-14-2007
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