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ANAL ABSCESS & FISTULA Facts

A patient who feels ill and complains of chills, fever and pain in the rectum or anus could be suffering from an anal abscess or fistula. These medical terms describe common ailments about which many people know little.

What is an anal abscess?

An anal abscess is an infected cavity filled with pus found near the anus or rectum.

What is an anal fistula?

An anal fistula, almost always the result of a previous abscess, is a small tunnel connecting the anal gland from which the abscess arose to the skin of the buttocks outside the anus.

What causes an abscess?

An abscess results from an acute infection of a small gland just inside the anus, when bacteria or foreign matter enters the tissue through the gland. Certain conditions – colitis or other inflammation of the intestine, for example – can sometimes make these infections more likely.

What causes a fistula?

After an abscess has been drained, a tunnel may persist connecting the anal gland from which the abscess arose to the skin. If this occurs, persistent drainage from the outside opening may indicate the persistence of this tunnel. If the outside opening of the tunnel heals, recurrent abscess may develop.


What are the symptoms of an abscess or fistula?

Symptoms of both ailments 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 (which often relieves the pain), fever, and feeling poorly in general.


What to ask your surgeon about surgery

Yes. In fact we are double board certified by both the American Board of Surgeons as well as the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

If I have an abscess drained, will it ever come back

Most patients will heal after drainage f an abscess with no further intervention needed.  However, up to a third of patients will develop another abscess or a fistula that will require additional treatment.

Can I have an abscess drained in the office?

Many patients who see us with a new abscess can have it drained right in the office same day.  This will depend on the size of the abscess and if it is painful.



Yes. Houston Colon surgeons maintain a prospective patient database which allows us to review and present our patient outcomes. We recently invited to present our data at TexMed 2006 – the annual meeting of the Texas Medical Association. Our outcomes have been very favorable with very low complication rates and compare well with published data from the Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.