An anal fistula is a tunnel that runs from the anal opening and connects the skin around it. An anal fistula mostly forms after an infection that did not heal properly. In human anatomy, the external opening through which feces are expelled is known as the anus. Multiple small glands that make mucus are located inside the anus. When these glands get clogged and infected due to dirt and debris, it can lead to the formation of an abscess. Most of these abscesses turn into an anal fistula.
When the abscesses that form near and around the anal mucosal tissues are not treated, it tends to keep growing and worsening over time. Eventually, the abscess punches out like a hole making its way outside the skin.
In most cases of anal fistuila, the anorectal specialist is able to diagnose it just through a physical examination. In case the condition of the anal fistula is sever, the doctor might require to do an examination of your rectum and anal canal. The commonly performed tests to diagnose anal fistula are:
Digital examination – In this test, the fistula specialist inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to check if there are any kind of abnormal growths.
Visual inspection – The proctologist or the anorectal surgeon might examine the lower rectum using a proctoscope, an anoscope or a sigmoidoscope. Using any of these devices, the doctor will carefully examine the lining of your anal tissues to check the severity and depth of your anal fistula.
Anoscopy – Anoscopy allows the anorectal doctor to examine the inner lining of your anus and rectum. The test checks for abnormal growths, bleeding, inflammation, and conditions such as diverticulosis.
Sigmoidoscopy – Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a useful test to look for an underlying aetiology in fistula-in-ano.
Imaging tests – Your physician may also order an ultrasound or MRI of the anal area to get a better view of the fistula tract.
Like any other surgical treatments, there are potential risks and complications associated with surgery if anal fistula too. Common complications may include:
Infection – When incisions are made in the skin, every surgery carries some risk of infection. The same is with the procedure of fistulectomy. In certain cases, where the fistula tract is too deep, the doctor might need to perform the surgery in several stages. In that case, there is a high possibility that the fistula might spread throughout the body and cause systemic infection. In case of infection from anal fistula, the doctor might prescribe antibiotics. If the infection is too severe, the patient might even require to get admitted to a hospital and undergo intravenous administration of antibiotics.
Bowel incontinence – If the fistula surgery is not performed by an expert anorectal surgeon, there are chances that the anal sphincter muscles may get damaged. The anal sphincter muscles are responsible of keeping the anus and controlling the bowel movements. In any case, if the sphincter muscles are damaged, the strength of the anal muscles are compromised which may cause leakage of feces. This condition is known as bowel incontinence. Bowel incontinence is estimated to affect 3-7 percent of the total patients who undergo anal fistula surgery.
Anal fistula recurrence – An estimated 7-21 percent of patients who have undergoes surgery for anal fistula suffer from recurrence of anal fistula after surgery. The chances of recurrence is ten highest in case of treatment of anal fistula through fibrin glue.
Here are some of the tips that can help you prevent anal fistula:
Whole grains, oatmeal, and brown rice
Beans and lentils
Vegetable and Brussel sprouts
Fruits such as bananas, apples, pears, and berries
Most people tend to ignore the early symptoms of anal fistula. Not knowing the symptoms of the disease can make you ignorant of the fact as to when to approach the right doctor. Getting medical treatment and professional help can help you avoid timely complications of the condition. If you experience any of the following signs, it could be an indication of anal fistula. Without further delay, you should consult with an anorectal surgeon in that case:
Once you have developed anal fistula, antibiotics or home remedies alone will not cure the condition. You will require surgical intervention to get the condition treated. Surgical options for anal fistula treatment include:
Fistulotomy – In this treatment, the fistula is opened and allowed to heal from inside out. The surgery is usually an outpatient procedure. As such, the patient can return home the very same day.
Laser surgery for snal fistula – Laser treatment for the closure of fistula-in-ano is a minimally invasive and low-complication treatment which is considered as the most effective treatment for complex fistulas. The treatment does not cause any severe damage or injury to the sphincter muscles.
There’s no denying that if you have developed anal fistula, the best thing to do is get professional help. But additionally, you can include self-care measures in your daily regime that may not only aid in reducing the symptoms but also help the fissure heal in a much shorter time.
Sitz baths – Sitz baths is one of the highly beneficial home remedy for almost every anorectal problem including anal fistula. Sitz baths may help in not only reeieving pain of the anal area but also speed up th ehealing process. Sitz bath is basically feeling a palstic tub with warm water and soaking you anal area for 15-20 minutes in the wtaer. The tubs used for the treatment can be brought from any drugstore. You can add epsom salts and additives in the water too, but only after recommendation from your healthcare provider.
Eating more fiber – If you have any anorectal disease or disorder, eating a sufficient amount of fiber may help prevent stools from being hard and prevent constipation and diarrhea. FIber rich diet can aid you in passing stools easily which may be less traumatic to the anal opening. Some examples of fiber-rich food are:
Use stool softeners – Using stool softener may prevent complications such as constipation. Stool softeners usually are quite effective in case of any anorectal diseases and cause no side effects. Stool softeners pull more water into the digestive tract that softens the stool. However, most doctors do not recommend using stool softeners for more than a week or ten days. Once you stop using stool softeners, it is important that you make lifestyle changes and continue healthy food.
Take care of the perianal skin – You want to prevent or maage anal fistula? The trick is to keep your perianal skin clean after bowel movements. If the jet spray is hurting your skin, you can skin the area with wet wipes. Make sure to rub or pat dry the area after passing stool each time. Remember to be gentle with your skin.
If you have anal fistula, you are likely to experience these signs and symptoms:
Usually, anorectal surgeons take around 1-3 hours to complete anal fistula surgery. However, the operation time may increase or decrease depending on factors like:
The success rate of anal fistula suregry can be as high as 95 percent if the suregry is performed by an epxert surgeon. The success of the surgery, post-surgery complications and possible recurrence of the condition, everything depends on how well the patient follows the advice of the doctor too.
To book an appointment with Pristyn Care doctors for the treatment of anal fistula, you can either call us directly on the number emntioned on the page or fill the appointment form. Our medical representative will get back to you to schedule an appointment as per your convenience with an expert anorectal surgeon.
Nitroglycerin cream can provide temporary relief from anal fistula symptoms as it improves blood flow and speed up the healing process. It can be directly applied to the anal canal after dilution to get relief from symptoms of fistula. But the ointment should be used only after consulting with the doctor. However, it is to be kept in mind that no ointment can provide permanent cure to anal fistula. If you are diagnosed with the condition, you will need surgery sooner or later to permanently get rid of the condition.
Yes. Exercise can help to regulate your bowel movements and make symptoms of ana fistula less painful. Along with exercise, you must drink plenty of water to prevent constipation and aid your bowel movement. Exercise also improves the blood flow to the anal region that can help the fistula to heal properly once it is cleaned.
No. Laser fistula surgery is a painless and non-invasive treatment method. There won’t be any cuts, stitches, wounds, or scars involved in the procedure. The treatment is also carried out under anesthesia (either general or local depending on the patient) which means the patient will not feel any pain or discomfort during the surgery. Once the effects of the surgery wear off, the patient may feel a slight painful sensation at the surgical site which is completely normal. The doctor, most likely, would prescribe medicines to help ease the pain. With proper medication and ample rest, the pain is likely to fade within the next few days only.
Appreciation from our Patients and their Full Recovery are our Accolades. Here are a few kind words from our patients after they got their treatment/surgery done by Dr Vineet Malhotra and Dr Abhishek Mishra.