An anorectal fistula is an abnormal connection between the anus and the area around the rectum. Sometimes, the fistula also connects the anus to another organ, usually the vagina. It typically develops due to an anorectal abscess but can also be caused by an underlying condition such as tuberculosis or Crohn’s disease. In the past, anorectal fistulas are treated with surgery. Today, however, they can be treated using less invasive alternatives.
Such minimally invasive procedures are now widely available in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. These countries, which have successfully become world-renowned medical tourism destinations, each have their share of JCI (Joint Commission International) and ISO (International Standards Organisation) certified hospitals and healthcare facilities where highly skilled expert surgeons perform advanced surgical procedures on thousands of foreign patients every year. Many of these hospitals offer newer surgical techniques for the treatment of fistulas in the anus. One particular treatment, which is now available in Singapore, involves the use of advancement flaps, which are stretched over the fistula’s opening. Patients can also find Southeast Asian surgeons who specialise in the use of biologic plugs and fibrin glue to close the fistula without the need for open surgery.
For international patients who are concerned about the cost and hassle of going abroad for treatment, countries like Thailand and Malaysia are the best options. These two countries have taken a novel approach to medical tourism. They have collectively made it easier for patients of any nationality to come to their shores for treatment by streamlining immigration processes for medical travellers, placing medical tourism helpdesks in airports, and making sure hospitals are staffed with multilingual medical professionals. These countries are also by far the most cost-effective locations for anorectal fistula treatment, offering up to 70% in cost savings in comparison with the US and UK.