If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease or other conditions, you may be at increased risk of developing an anal fistula, or an open channel that runs from your bowel to the skin near your anus. Fistulas can be exceptionally painful without treatment and put you at risk of serious complications. Dr. Farouk Tootla offers expert diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of anal fistula in his Waterford, Michigan, practice. Call the office or schedule your consultation online.
An anal fistula is a channel that develops between the bowel and the skin of the buttocks near the anus.
Anal fistulas can be caused by a wide variety of things, including:
Because many of these causes are separate diseases that require additional treatment, your doctor will work hard to find the underlying cause of your anal fistula to ensure you receive treatment for that, too.
If you have an anal fistula, you might experience the following signs and symptoms:
In most cases, an anal fistula can be diagnosed by a physical and digital examination of the rectum. Sometimes additional tests are needed to screen for STDs, diverticular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or rectal cancer.
The only way to treat an anal fistula is through surgery, but many different kinds of surgery may be used depending on your doctor’s assessment of your fistula and recommendations. Surgeries are performed under general anesthesia to ensure you don’t experience pain or trauma.
Your wounds may take as long as eight weeks to heal, but you’ll be able to return to school or work as soon as you can manage your pain. Your doctor will send you home with prescription medications to manage and prevent pain, and in some cases, may also prescribe antibiotics to aid in preventing an infection. Your wound will be covered with a wound dressing, which needs to be changed and assessed by a wound nurse periodically. Stool softeners can help alleviate discomfort during bowel movements.
The goal of surgery is to permanently heal your anal fistula. However, certain diseases like inflammatory bowel disease increase your risk of developing new anal fistulas in different places. Staying in close communication with your doctor and seeking prompt treatment for suspected fistulas is critical in improving your outcome.