Anal Abscess and Anal Fistula: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

The anal region is a sensitive area of the body that can be susceptible to various medical conditions that can be diagnosed and treated by your colorectal surgeon. Two common conditions that affect the anal area are anal abscess and anal fistula. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are actually distinct but related conditions. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for anal abscesses and anal fistulas is essential for proper diagnosis and management from your colorectal surgeon in Melbourne. If it makes it easier to seek treatment, remember you can request a female surgeon.

Causes of anal abscesses and anal fistulas

Both anal abscesses and anal fistulas are usually caused by an infection in the anal glands or crypts, which are small glands located inside the anus. The infection can occur when bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract enter the anal glands through small cracks or fissures in the anal lining.

Common factors that can contribute to the development of anal abscesses and fistulas include:

  • Anal gland blockage: If the anal glands become blocked, the stagnant secretions can lead to the formation of an abscess.
  • Bacterial infection: Bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) or Staphylococcus aureus (staph infection), can enter the anal glands and cause an infection.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can increase the risk of developing anal abscesses and fistulas.
  • Trauma or injury: Any injury or trauma to the anal region can potentially lead to the formation of an abscess or fistula.

Symptoms of anal abscesses and anal fistulas

The symptoms of anal abscesses and anal fistulas can vary in severity and presentation. However, both conditions can cause considerable discomfort and interfere with daily activities. Many people feel embarrassed about the intimate nature of these symptoms, and it can help to speak to a female surgeon when looking for the right colorectal surgeon in Melbourne.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain and swelling around the anus: This is often the first noticeable symptom and is typically accompanied by redness and tenderness.
  • Fever: An anal abscess can cause fever and chills, indicating an infection.
  • Pus discharge: As the abscess progresses, it may develop a collection of pus that can be spontaneously discharged, often accompanied by a foul odour.
  • Constipation or difficulty passing stool: If an anal fistula forms, it can create a passage between the anus and the skin, leading to pain or difficulty during bowel movements.
  • Recurring infections: Anal fistulas can result in recurrent abscesses if not adequately treated.

How to treat anal abscesses and anal fistulas

The treatment approach for anal abscesses and anal fistulas depends on the severity, location, and individual patient factors. In most cases, medical intervention from your male or female surgeon is necessary to prevent complications and promote healing.

Common treatment options include:

  • Incision and drainage: An anal abscess often requires surgical intervention to drain the pus and relieve the pain. This is typically performed under anaesthesia in an operating room by a colorectal surgeon.
  • Antibiotics: If the infection is severe or has spread beyond the abscess, antibiotics may be prescribed to eliminate the bacteria.
  • Fistulotomy: In the case of an anal fistula, a surgical procedure called fistulotomy is performed by a colorectal surgeon to create an opening and promote drainage. This procedure involves cutting the fistula tract and allowing it to heal from the inside out.
  • Seton placement: For complex or deep fistulas, a seton (a piece of thread or rubber) may be inserted by a colorectal surgeon through the fistula tract to help maintain drainage and promote healing.
  • Biologic therapy: In some cases, patients with inflammatory bowel disease may benefit from biologic medications to control the underlying disease and reduce the risk of recurrent abscesses or fistulas.

How to prevent these health issues

While it may not be possible to prevent all cases of anal abscesses and anal fistulas, there are steps individuals can take to reduce the risk.

These include:

  • Maintaining good anal hygiene: Keeping the anal area clean and dry can help prevent bacterial overgrowth and infections.
  • Avoiding constipation: A diet rich in fibre, regular exercise, and staying hydrated can promote regular bowel movements and reduce the risk of anal trauma.
  • Treating underlying conditions: Managing conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can help reduce the likelihood of developing anal abscesses and fistulas.

If you have symptoms, speak to a colorectal surgeon in Melbourne Today

In conclusion, anal abscesses and anal fistulas can cause significant discomfort and require prompt medical attention, so book an appointment with a colorectal surgeon in Melbourne as soon as you can. Remember, you can request a female surgeon if it makes you more comfortable about seeking treatment!