Perianal fistulizing Crohn’s disease (pCD) has a significant impact on patients’ health and quality of life. Current treatment options have a relatively low success rate and a high recurrence risk. Positive effects of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy have been indicated in animal studies as well as in small case series.


This is a non-randomized, controlled pilot study. A total of 20 patients with pCD who have been refractory to standard therapy for at least six months will be included. Patients with a seton and stable treatment regimen will be included. Patients with anal strictures, rectovaginal fistulas, stoma or deep ulceration of the rectum will be excluded. Patients who are eligible but refuse HBO2 will be asked to serve as controls. Patients in the HBO2 group will be treated with 40 sessions of HBO2 therapy at 243-253 kPa, with the seton being removed after 30 sessions. Co-primary endpoints are changes in the perianal disease activity index and MRI-scores. Secondary outcomes are fistula drainage assessment, laboratory findings and patient-reported outcomes. Assessment will be done at baseline, 16 weeks, 34 weeks and 60 weeks after finishing HBO2.


The aim of this study is to investigate the feasibility and therapeutic effect of HBO2 on pCD. The one-year follow-up should provide information on the effect durability. A comparison between patients treated with HBO2 and patients who continue to receive standard care will be made. The risk of bias will be limited by using clearly defined inclusion and exclusion criteria, baseline characteristics and consecutive recruitment of patients through an outpatient fistula clinic.


The HOT-TOPIC trial has been approved by the local Medical Ethical Committee of the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The trial has been registered at the Netherlands Trial Register (www.trialregister.nl), registration number: NTR 6676. Protocol version: August 2017, version 3.0.


Lansdorp, C. A., Gecse, K. B., Buskens, C. J., Land Wenberg, M., Stoker, J., Bemelman, W. A., … van Hulst, R. A. (2019). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of perianal fistulas in Crohn’s disease (HOT-TOPIC): study protocol of a prospective interventional cohort study with one-year follow-up. Journal of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. 2019 Jan-Feb;46(1):45-53.