An anal abscess is an infected cavity filled with pus found near the anus or rectum. An anal fistula is usually the result of a previous abscess. It is a small tunnel connecting the anal gland from which the abscess arose to the skin of the buttocks outside the anus.
Symptoms of both include constant pain, sometimes accompanied by swelling that is not necessarily related to bowel movements. Other symptoms include irritation of skin around the anus, drainage of pus, fever, and feeling poorly in general.
An abscess is treated by draining the pus from the infected cavity, making an opening in the skin near the anus to relieve the pressure. Often, this can be done in a doctor’s office using a local anesthetic. A large or deep abscess may require hospitalization and use of a different anesthetic method.
Surgery is necessary to cure an anal fistula and should be performed by a specialist in colon and rectal surgery. The procedure usually involves cutting a small portion of the anal sphincter muscle to open the tunnel, joining the external and internal opening, and converting the tunnel into a groove that will then heal from within outward. The surgery usually is performed on an outpatient basis; a short hospital stay may be recommended.
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