Background: Complex perianal fistulising disease is a distressing condition. In patients without Crohn’s disease, surgery is the mainstay treatment but faecal incontinence and recurrence are high. Infliximab is used in Crohn’s patients but not all respond to therapy.

Objective: After an evaluation of the current treatment options, we discuss studies of adipose-derived stem cell (ASC) therapy, a novel approach for treating complex perianal fistulas.

Methods: ASCs are obtained from a liposuction procedure and a subsequent expansion process. They are administered according to a strict protocol which involves infusion of the cells into the target lesion along with fibrin glue.

Results/conclusions: A Phase IIb study comparing ASC and fibrin glue therapy with fibrin glue therapy alone showed that ASCs were effective at inducing healing in complex perianal fistulas.


Garcia-Olmo D, Garcia-Arranz M, Herreros D. Expanded adipose-derived stem cells for the treatment of complex perianal fistula including Crohn’s disease. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2008 Sep;8(9):1417-23. doi: 10.1517/14712598.8.9.1417. PMID: 18694359.