Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Offers Unique Treatment for Fistulas to Reduce Risk of Incontinence

Swarna Balasubramaniam, M.D.Swarna Balasubramaniam, M.D.

LIFT, or Ligation of Intersphinteric Fistula Tract, is a sophisticated new surgical technique that significantly reduces the risk of bowel incontinence.

“LIFT is a more involved and complex surgery, and many colorectal surgeons are not utilizing it because it is so time-consuming and delicate,” said Dr. Balasubramaniam.  “But for patients with a higher risk of post-surgical incontinence, such as women and older people, it is a very successful technique.”

Anal abscesses and subsequent fistulas are difficult problems that can strike anyone at any time. A fistula is formed by an infection that migrates through the anal sphincter and drains through the skin.

Traditional surgery involves cutting the perianal skin and anal sphincter down the fistulous tract and allowing for secondary closure and healing over a period of some weeks. But that approach can lead to bowel incontinence, especially if the fistula track is deep under the anal sphincter muscle.

Using the LIFT technique, Dr. Balasubramaniam identifies the fistula tract (which is like a scarred hollow tube) as it travels between the layers of the anal sphincter muscle.  She then cuts and sutures off the tract and removes associated infected tissue – without cutting through the anal sphincter muscle itself.

“Not all fistulas need to be treated in this manner, but it does offer better outcomes for patients with the most complex cases,” said Dr. Balasubramaniam.  “We have now done many of these procedures at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, with great success.  I recommend that patients see a trained colorectal specialist before making a decision on treatment.  The LIFT procedure can give patients a significantly improved future quality of life.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Balasubramaniam or a colorectal surgeon in your area, please call (281) 274-7500 or for more information about Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, visit

Media Contacts
Kaelyn Bujnoch
Phone: 281.274.8085