There are glands inside the anus that secrete fluids. Sometimes these glands can get clogged. Pus builds up in the blocked clogs, which get infected. This is called an abscess. Unless the abscess is treated right away, it will keep growing. It eventually punches a hole through the skin near your anus to drain the infected tissues and pus. This tunnel that leads from the gland to the hole is called a fistula.
Usually, it is an abscess that causes a fistula. But sometimes a fistula can be caused by tuberculosis, a bowel illness or sexually transmitted diseases.
What are the symptoms of anal fistula?
The symptoms of anal fistula are-
How is fistula diagnosed?
If you complain of any of the above symptoms, a doctor will perform a physical examination on you.
Sometimes a physical examination does not reveal a fistula because the fistula can close for a while and then open up again. So then your doctor might ask you to get the following tests done-
Treatment for anal fistula
Unfortunately, there are no medicines that can treat fistula. If you are diagnosed with fistula, you will require surgery. However, it is a minimally invasive surgery with no risks involved.
The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. A fistula surgery can be done in the following ways-
• If the fistula is located beneath the sphincter muscles, the surgeon cuts the fistula open so that it can heal and new healthy tissues can develop there.
• If the fistula passes through the upper part of the sphincter muscles, then the surgeon runs a special stitch through the fistula (seton stitch) so that the fistula can drain properly and heal. It takes 6 weeks for the pus to drain and the wound to heal
• Sometimes, a doctor will simply plug the fistula so it does not seep pus.
General and specific complications of a fistula surgery
Though it is a safe surgery, some complications may arise, but rarely. These may be general or specific.
• Bleeding and pain
• Scarring around the region of the surgery
• Pain while urinating
• The involuntary passing of wind or lose faeces
An anal fistula is a painful condition that refuses to go away and the only way to cure it is surgery.