An anal fistula is a tiny passage that attaches the infected cavity in the anus, or an abscess, to an opening located around the anus on the skin. If the abscess is left untreated, it can lead to a fistula.
An anal fistula can be caused by clogged anal glands that are created from an anal abscess. When the anal gland gets blocked or clogged, it leads to bacteria building up, which creates a pocket of infected tissue and pus, otherwise known as an abscess. If left untreated, the abscess will continue to grow and eventually become a fistula.
An anal fistula can also be caused by less common factors, including:
- Crohn’s disease
- Radiation exposure
- Diseases that are transmitted sexually
- Traumatic injury
Anal Fistula Symptoms
There are a number of different anal fistula symptoms, including:
- Recurring anal abscesses
- Swelling or pain on or near the anus
- Bad smelling-drainage, or pus, from the area surrounded around the anus
- Skin irritation around the anus
- Painful movements of the bowel
- Loss of blood
- Fever and chills
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is imperative that you seek medical help from an experienced doctor. Dr. Kamrava is a board-certified general and colorectal surgeon with extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of anal fistulas. It is important that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Contact our team to schedule an appointment with our trusted and skilled colorectal surgeon to get the medical care you need and deserve.
How Serious is a Fistula?
Fistulas can cause serious discomfort and if left untreated, can cause severe complications. Because a fistula is composed of bacteria buildup, it can potentially lead to sepsis if left untreated. Sepsis is an extremely dangerous condition that can result in low blood pressure, damage to organs, or even death. Therefore, if you are experiencing signs of symptoms of an anal fistula, you should schedule an appointment with a trusted colorectal surgeon as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
How Are Anal Fistulas Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with an anal fistula, you should see a colorectal surgeon as soon as possible. At your appointment, Dr. Kamrava will ask questions about your medical history and perform an exam. In some cases, anal fistulas are easily visible and in other cases, they are not. This is because anal fistulas have the ability to open and close up, so if it is closed, then your doctor will need to do a more in depth examination.
Dr. Kamrava will look for certain signs of an anal fistula, such as drainage of pus or bleeding. Additionally, an X-ray or CT scan may be necessary. Some patients may even need a colonoscopy, which involves an instrument that is a small tube with a camera attached to it. The camera allows the doctor to examine your anus and the inside of your bowels. During a colonoscopy, anesthesia is administered to ensure a comfortable and painless procedure.
What is Treatment Like For Anal Fistulas?
Generally, surgery has been required in order for an anal fistula to be treated and cured. More recently, non-surgical office treatments of fistulas have been reported in Europe with minimal risk and downtime. Dr. Kamrava has been offering these new cutting-edge treatments in his office for his patients.
The surgery is executed by a board-certified colorectal surgeon. It is important that you receive treatment from a skilled and experienced colorectal surgeon to ensure the best results. The goal is to remove the fistula without damaging the muscles of the anal sphincter, which may lead to incontinence if harmed.
In some cases, patients may have little to no muscles of the sphincter involved so the fistula is managed with a fistulotomy. The fistulotomy involves an incision that is made to the skin and muscle that lies on the tunnel. The incision allows for the tunnel to open and heal.
If the fistula is more complex, then your surgeon may need to use a seton, which is a drain that is used and stays there for about six weeks. Once the seton is in place, a second procedure is usually performed, which may involve one of the following:
- Advancement flap procedure, which involves the fistula to be covered with a piece of tissue that is removed from the rectum
- A LIFT procedure, which involved the fistula’s upper skin to be opened and tied off
- FiLAC – or laser, where a laser probe is placed in the fistula tract and cauterizes the tract to initiate a reaction to scar it in
- Fistula Plug – a plug of biologic material is placed in the tract to provide a scaffolding for healing
- Glue – a glue is injected in the tract attempting to seal it
- Silver Nitrate – this is a newer, non-surgical and office based treatment, where a series of chemical liquid is injected into the tract to initiate a reaction to scar in the tract
- Adjustable Setons – a seton that slowly extrudes itself from the tract
Whatever the case may be, Dr. Kamrava will be able to determine the best procedure for you based on the condition of your fistula and the cause of it. In general, fistula surgery is an outpatient procedure, which allows the patient to return home the day of the surgery. However, for more serious fistulas, the patient may need to be under supervision after surgery for a short period of time.
If you would like to learn more about how our team can provide you with the treatment you need, feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment.
If you are experiencing the signs or symptoms of an anal fistula, it is imperative that you schedule an appointment with Dr. Kamrava for diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Kamrava is a highly experienced colorectal surgeon that can provide you with the excellent care you need in order to recover. If a fistula is left untreated, it can lead to severe health problems. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to see a skilled specialist who can provide you with the care that you need. Feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment.