Infections or abscess in your anal canal can increase your risk of developing a painful anal fistula. To treat the infection, M. Jonathan Worsey, MD, FRCS, FACS, FASCRS, and Keith Beiermeister, MD, FACS, FASCRS, offer simple, office-based procedures at San Diego Colon and Rectal Surgeons in La Jolla, California. Dr. Worsey and Dr. Beiermeister focus on relieving your symptoms and reducing your risk of recurrent infection which may be a sign of developing fistula. Request an appointment online or call San Diego Colon and Rectal Surgeons today to schedule an anal fistula evaluation.

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What is an anal fistula?

An anal fistula is the abnormal growth of a tube-like connection between your anal canal and the skin around your anus.

The fistula most commonly develops due to an infection in one of your glands within the anal canal. Bacteria commonly found in your anal glands can multiply and form an abscess that burrows through your rectum wall and into the skin around your anus.

In rare instances, an anal fistula can develop due to cancer, injury, and underlying medical conditions like Crohn’s disease. Vaginal childbirth can cause a fistula between the vagina and rectum, typically because of an episiotomy (a surgical incision sometimes needed during childbirth) that fails to heal.

What are the symptoms of an anal fistula?

When you develop an anal abscess, you experience anal pain and swelling and see redness in the skin around your anus. If the abscess does not spontaneously drain, it may require incision and drainage in the office.

If the abscess leads to an anal fistula, you can experience:

  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Bleeding
  • Pus discharge

To treat your pain and prevent an anal fistula from getting worse, Dr. Worsey and Dr. Beiermeister custom-design a treatment plan based on the severity of your condition and your general health.

How is an anal fistula treated?

The standard treatment of an anal fistula is surgery. Dr. Beiermeister and Dr. Worsey have extensive training in surgical techniques to safely drain the abscess and slow the infection’s spread.

The surgeons also use advanced techniques to remove the roof of the tunnel and expose the skin in the tract to promote healing. If the fistula is complex and involves your anal sphincter muscles, you’ll need to have a drain placed to move fluids out of the tract and prevent infections and abscesses from repeatedly returning.

Surgery to treat an anal fistula is typically an outpatient procedure, so you can expect to go home the same day.

If you need a diagnostic evaluation for any symptoms of an anal fistula, schedule an appointment online or call the team at San Diego Colon and Rectal Surgeons today.