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Anal Fistula

Colorado Colon & Rectal Specialists

Lisa A. Perryman, MD, FACS, FASCRS

Colon and Rectal Surgeon & A Private Medical Practice located in the Denver Metropolitan Area, CO

At Colorado Colon & Rectal Specialists in the Denver metropolitan area, Colorado, board-certified proctologist Lisa A. Perryman, MD, FACS, FASCRS, understands how problematic an anal fistula can be. Dr. Perryman offers office exams, diagnostic testing, and surgical treatment services to relieve symptoms and ensure your skin heals properly. If you have rectal pain, bleeding, or other symptoms of an anal fistula, schedule a diagnostic evaluation with our colon and rectal surgeon, Dr. Perryman, through the online booking system or by phone.

Anal Fistula Q & A

What is an anal fistula?

When you have an abscess, a pus-filled, infected cavity, near your anus or rectum, you’re at increased risk for developing a fistula. An anal fistula occurs when bacteria and fecal matter clog an anal gland and begin to tunnel into the surrounding tissue.

A fistula is most common if you have recurrent anal abscesses. The tunnel forms under the skin and eventually connects the infected glands to an abscess or to the skin of the buttocks near the opening of your anus.

You’re more likely to develop an anal fistula if you have:

  • Trauma
  • Cancer
  • Anal Abscess
  • Crohn’s disease

Sexually transmitted diseases can also increase your risk for an anal fistula.

What are the symptoms of an anal fistula?

A common symptom of an anal fistula is pain around the anus, especially during or after bowel movements. Other signs that may indicate an anal fistula include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anal irritation or itching
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the anus

Because of the underlying infection, you may also develop a fever and chills and frequent feelings of fatigue.

If you have symptoms of an anal fistula, schedule a diagnostic evaluation with Dr. Perryman as soon as possible.

How is an anal fistula diagnosed?

To confirm your symptoms relate to an anal fistula and not another underlying health issue, Dr. Perryman reviews your medical history and performs a physical exam. She can often identify anal fistulas by assessing the skin around your anus to find openings, or tracts, in the skin.

Dr. Perryman also focuses on how deep the tract is to determine the best course of treatment. In some cases, she may need to use a special instrument to view inside your anus and rectum. You may also need imaging tests, like an MRI or ultrasound, so Dr. Perryman can assess the severity of the tract.

To identify Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory diseases that can cause fistulas, Dr. Perryman may recommend a colonoscopy.

How are anal fistulas treated?

In many cases, Dr. Perryman recommends surgery to treat a fistula. The goal of outpatient surgery is to treat the fistula and protect the muscles around your anus. Dr. Perryman uses advanced techniques to minimize trauma to the surrounding skin and sphincter muscles.

Fistula surgery typically involves removal of the skin and muscles over the tunnel to allow it to heal naturally. If the fistula is complex, Dr. Perryman may need to place a silk or latex string (seton) into the fistula to promote proper drainage of the abscess.

You may need to use stool softeners or laxatives to help with bowel movements and take warm baths to relieve pain for several days after your surgery.

If you have symptoms of an anal fistula, schedule a consultation at Colorado Colon & Rectal Specialists through the online booking system or by calling the office.