Anal Fistulas are openings near the anus and/or the rectum. They come from infections or puss that have built up in the anus. They can also be the result of another condition, such as Crohn’s disease. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for successfully curing this condition, which can be noticeably stubborn.
Symptoms of Anal Fistula
If you are experiencing pain in the anus or the surrounding area you should contact your doctor immediately. Other symptoms include swelling in and around the anus, irritated skin in and around the anus, bleeding or pus coming from the anus, problems controlling your bowels, anal discharge, and anal cysts. These could be symptoms of an anal fistula or a more serious problem.
Diagnosing Anal Fistula
The first step in identifying an anal fistula requires either an anoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy. This allows the doctors to see the lower rectum and large intestine with a small camera. Once the fistula is found, the patient may also be tested for Crohn’s disease.
To see the extent of the fistula the doctor might order an MRI or use a fistula probe. This is a small instrument that enters the fistula to detect how deep it is and if it has entered the sphincter muscles.
Treatment and Problems
Fistulas are treated with either medication or surgery. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are used to increase comfort levels and allow the fistula to heal on its own. If this does not work, surgery is the next option. One type surgery is called an anal fistulotomy. This procedure is done on an outpatient basis and consists of the doctor cutting into the opening of the fistula, cleaning out any infected tissue.
Recovery from this surgery usually takes around 1 to 4 weeks. The goal is for the fistula to seal completely and not reopen.
Fistula can be difficult to treat because each one is different. Sometimes they can be extremely long and complex. Depending on the length of the fistula and the thickness of the sphincter muscles, patients can have varying levels of fecal incontinence.
If the problem persists, for example the fistula reopens or a new fistula forms, the patient will need to receive treatment again.
Call an Anal Fistula Expert
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or if you have questions about treatment options, call the experts at La Peer Health Systems today. Our number is 888.512.2312.