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.
Some Medical Advice
A painful swelling in the anal area is often thought to be a hemorrhoid but can bean abscess. It is important to seek medical care to have the area examined so you can be placed on the best treatment.
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.
Yes – We routinely perform several laparoscopic colon procedures each week.
We perform over 90% of our procedures laparoscopically.
Our surgeons have performed over 500 laparoscopic colectomies since 2004 which makes us one of the highest volume practices in the country.
Among the benefits, our patients recover sooner, require less pain medication, tolerate a diet and are discharged from the hospital earlier than patients undergoing open surgery.
Nearly all patients are candidates for this procedure – even if you have had previous open abdominal procedures or have many medical diseases.
As with any colon or general surgery there are several potential risks which we will discuss with you on an individual basis. However, we have seen significantly fewer risks with our patients following laparoscopic surgery – including a much reduced risk of wound infections.
This refers to the situation where you begin the surgery laparoscopically and must convert to the open technique for various reasons. Our rate of conversion is less than 5%.
Most of our patients are ready to leave the hospital in 3 or 4 days following surgery. This compares favorably to open surgery which usually requires 7 to 9 days.
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.