There are small glands just inside your anus. If one of these glands becomes blocked, it can become infected. This infected gland is called an abscess. A fistula forms when a tunnel is formed that connects the infected gland to an opening on the skin around the anus.
Constant pain, sometimes accompanied by swelling, is a symptom of an anal abscess. The pain is not necessarily related to a bowel movement.
Other symptoms of an abscess or fistula are:
- Pain with bowel movements
- Drainage of pus or blood which may alleviate the pain
- Irritation or a “sore spot” on your skin from the drainage
- Fever, chills, and a general feeling of fatigue due to the infection
Causes and Risk Factors
An abscess occurs when bacteria or foreign matter get into the tissue through a gland. Half of all abscesses will develop a fistula.
Known risk factors include:
- Colitis, Crohn’s disease or other inflammation of the intestine
- Sexually transmitted diseases
You should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of an anal abscess or fistula. Your doctor will start with a complete medical history to determine the frequency and duration of your symptoms.
Other tests include:
- Physical exam of the affected area
- Blood tests
- Anoscopy if the affected area is not close to the surface
- Ultrasound to better locate the abscess
- MRI to better define the fistula tract
Treatment and Procedures
Abscesses can typically be treated in your doctor’s office where they can be drained using a local anesthetic. Larger abscesses and fistulae might require more intense treatment including:
- Surgical drainage of the abscess and repair of the fistula
- Antibiotic treatment
- Placement of a steton if continual drainage is needed
Even if the abscess drains on its own, you should be evaluated and treated by a doctor specializing in treating anal abscesses.
Your health is our greatest concern. Please contact the Center for Colon & Rectal Surgery at 407.303.2615for a private consultation today.