The Columbia Anal Fistula Center

The Columbia Anal Fistula Center is here to bring you top-quality care from world-leading experts in colorectal and anal conditions. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with an anal fistula, let us help by calling (212) 342-1155 or request an appointment online today.

About Anal Fistulas

Anorectal fistulas are a common and frustrating problem that can significantly affect quality of life.

Anal fistulas usually occur after an anorectal abscess that develops due to infection in the glands within the anal canal lining that secrete mucus. This process is similar to how acne develops on the skin. Anyone is at risk of developing the condition, however, they may be associated with conditions such as Crohn’s disease, where fistulae might be more complex and particularly difficult to manage.

Anorectal fistulas can cause daily discomfort and pain. When left untreated, anal fistulas can lead to repeated infections and abscesses. Abscesses often need emergency drainage, which can mean urgent visits to the doctor’s office and emergency room.

Read more about Anal Fistulas

Our Services

The Columbia Anal Fistula Center offers relief for people suffering from anal fistulas by giving multiple surgical options, delivered with the highest quality of care.

Surgery is the only option for curing anal fistulas. Different procedures can be used, however success rates depend on the type of procedure, the skill of the surgeon performing the operation, the center where it is done and the specific disease process the patient might have.

The surgeons at the Columbia Anal Fistula Center have extensive experience performing every fistula procedure and have a high rate of success with all fistulas, no matter the level of complexity. Fistulotomy, seton placement, rectal advancement flap repair, and LIFT procedures are performed by our surgeons and are individualized to the patient depending upon the nature and location of the fistula.

We work under the guidance of our director, Dr James Church, who was instrumental in building one of the most reputable colorectal division in the world at the Cleveland Clinic over nearly four decades and has now come to Columbia to pass his expertise on to a new generation of surgeons. A recent study that reviewed the results of Dr Church’s obliteration-of-the-intrasphincter-tract procedure revealed a success rate of healing of 98% in patients without Crohn’s disease and 87% in those with Crohn’s disease.

Our Team

All the colorectal surgeons on our team employ the obliteration-of-the-intrasphincter-tract procedure for anal fistula using Dr Church’s technique and principles of treatment. They have all been proctored by Dr Church and co-manage patients under his guidance. 

Dr Cary B. AaronsCary B. Aarons, MD | Interim Chief, Division of Colorectal Surgery
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Debbie Bakes, MDDebbie Bakes, MD | Chief, Colorectal Surgery/Westchester Section
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Ravi Kiran, MDP. Ravi Kiran, MD | Director, Advanced Colorectal Surgery, IBD & Pouch Institute


Dr James ChurchJames M. Church, MD | Director of Research, Section Head of Hereditary Cancer and Familial Polyposis, Division of Colorectal Surgery

Usama Ahmed Ali, MDUsama Ahmed Ali, MD | book an appointment online »


Dr Marco ZoccaliMarco Bertucci Zoccali, MD | book an appointment online »


Dr Beatrice DionigiBeatrice Dionigi, MD | book an appointment online »


Joseph Riad, MDJoseph Riad, MD | book an appointment online »


Dr David SchwartzbergDavid Schwartzberg, MD | book an appointment online »


Clinical Research

The Anal Fistula Center is at the forefront of research in the field. We organize and participate in numerous trials to improve standards of care.

Recent publication: Advancement Flap Repair: A Good Option For Complex Anorectal Fistulas

Our Offices

The Columbia Anal Fistula Center is located at the main NYP/Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus in Washington Heights. Can’t make it to our offices? We also offer virtual visits.

Washington Heights-NYP/Columbia University Irving Medical Center (Main Campus)

Herbert Irving Pavilion
161 Fort Washington Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10032

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment with the Anal Fistula Center, please call us at (212) 342-1155 or request an appointment online today.

We accept most major insurance plans and can verify your plan when you call to make your appointment. Medical records can be faxed to (212) 305-0267.