What is an anal fistula?

An anal fistula is a narrow tunnel that connects an anal abscess, an infected cavity in the anus, to an opening on the skin around the anus. The anus, the external opening for expelling feces, contains small glands that can become clogged and infected, leading to an abscess. Approximately half of these abscesses may progress to form a fistula.

Anal fistula or fistula-in-anno is a common anorectal problem in which abnormal relationships develop between the inner surface of the rectal canal and the skin around the anus of the anus causing severe pain and infection. The anal gland (rectal opening and closing muscle) between the two layers of the anal sphincter and the rectum canal are the places where the anus lives. Blocking the sky of these glands, secretes the inside and creates a gland that can eventually direct the surface of the skin. The magazine produced by this process is Fistula.

Fistula specialist in Hadapsar

Causes of Anal Fistula:

  • Primary causes include clogged anal glands and anal abscesses.
  • Less common causes involve conditions such as Crohn’s disease, radiation treatment for cancer, trauma, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, diverticulitis, and cancer.

Symptoms of Anal Fistula:

  • Frequent anal abscesses.
  • Pain and swelling around the anus.
  • Bloody or foul-smelling drainage (pus) from an opening around the anus, with reduced pain after drainage.
  • Skin irritation around the anus due to drainage.
  • Pain during bowel movements.
  • Bleeding.
  • Fever, chills, and a general feeling of fatigue.

If experiencing these symptoms, it is essential to consult a doctor for proper evaluation.

Diagnosis of Anal Fistula:

  • Diagnosis is often based on a physical examination of the area around the anus, looking for the fistula tract’s external opening and assessing its depth and direction.
  • Additional tests may include anoscopy (examining the anus and rectum), ultrasound, MRI, or an exam under anesthesia in some cases.
  • Further tests may be conducted to explore potential associations with Crohn’s disease, such as blood tests, X-rays, and colonoscopy.

Treatment of Anal Fistula:

  • Surgical intervention is the primary treatment as there is no medication to cure the condition.
  • For a simple fistula away from the anus, the doctor may cut open the skin and muscle surrounding the tunnel, allowing it to heal from the inside out.
  • In some cases, a plug may be used to close the fistula.
  • More complicated fistulas may require the insertion of a drainage tube (seton) before surgery to facilitate the removal of infected fluid.
  • Surgical procedures may involve cutting into the sphincter muscles, and while efforts are made to minimize damage, there may be challenges in bowel control post-surgery.

It’s crucial to note that surgical procedures for anal fistulas can often be performed in a doctor’s office or clinic, eliminating the need for hospitalization. Patients should follow their physician’s recommendations for postoperative care and recovery.