An anal fistula is an uncomfortable and painful ailment. It can be treated through surgery as well as by some conventional methods.
The kind of treatment you need depends on where your fistula is located and whether it has a single duct or branches in different directions.
What Is An Anal Fistula?
An anal fistula is a tunnel that joins an infected gland in the anus. It transforms into an opening in the skin around the anus, leading to severe inflammation and unbearable pain around the anus. Any blockage in the small glands inside the anus can lead to an abscess, which develops into an anal fistula.
These small glands produce mucus, and any interference can lead to the problem. There are times when a look at the affected area can give doctors a fair idea of the situation. The treatment depends on the fistula’s position and the extent of infection.
What Leads To An Anal Fistula?
Blocked glands and abscesses in the anus are some of the leading causes of an anal fistula. Other reasons that can lead to an anal fistula are:
Crohn’s disease; an inflammatory bowel-related disease
Radiotherapy (cancer treatment) or cancer
Trauma of any kind
Sexually transmitted diseases
Diverticulitis (a disease in which small pockets form and become inflamed in the large intestine)
Symptoms of Anal Fistula
Some of the symptoms are:
Frequent anal abscesses
Blood, pain, and swelling in the area
Foul smelling discharge Irritation around the anus
Severe pain with bowel movements
Fever and general fatigue
Diagnosis of an Anal Fistula
Here are some ways to check an anal fistula:
The external duct near the skin can get red and cause severe inflammation. This affected area is easy to detect. It can secrete pus and blood. However, if the fistula is located in the internal opening, it can be more challenging to locate and treat. Max Healthcaregroup specialists use the latest technologies and various testing techniques to identify the problem. Here are some of them:
MRI is used to figure out the course of the fistula and provide detailed images of the sphincter and other pelvic floor structures.
Endoscopic ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to identify the fistula, sphincters, and surrounding tissue.
Fistulography is an X-ray of the fistula after injection of a contrast solution. It provides a view of the fistula and the extent of the problem.
The other options are:
Flexible sigmoidoscopy helps to rule out other diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
What are the Treatment Options for an Anal Fistula?
Surgery is almost always required to heal an anal fistula. The operation is performed to balance the elimination of the fistula and the protection of the anal sphincter. Here are the recommended treatments for anal fistula:
It is a surgery that cuts the entire length of the fistula to open it, so it heals like a flat scar. It is appropriate for fistulas that do not cross much of the sphincter muscle. If the surgeon cuts a small part of the anal sphincter during the procedure, he will do everything possible to reduce the risk of incontinence. If the risk is too high, another procedure may be recommended instead.
If your fistula passes through a portion of the anal sphincter, the surgeon may recommend inserting a seton – a piece of surgical thread left in the fistula for 6 weeks to keep it open. This allows it to drain and help heal, avoiding the need to cut the sphincters. Another small surgery is done to take the seton out.
A flap augmentation procedure may be considered if the fistula extends through the anal sphincter muscles, and a fistulotomy carries a high risk of causing incontinence.
The ligation of the intersphincteric fistula tract (LIFT) procedure is a treatment for when a fistulotomy is too risky. During treatment, a cut is made in the skin above the fistula, and the sphincters are pushed away. The fistula is then closed at both ends and cut flat.
An endoscope is a small tube with an attached camera inserted in the fistula to check the area. An electrode is passed through the endoscope to close the fistula. Endoscopic treatment works well and is considered a safe option.
The fistula is closed with a small laser beam with radial emission fibre laser treatment. There are uncertainties but minimal health concerns.
It is a non-surgical option wherein the surgeon injects adhesive into the fistula that helps seal it and promotes its healing. It is less effective, and there is a chance that the results may not be permanent, but it is better than cutting the anal sphincters.
A bioprosthetic plug is a cone-shaped plug that can block the fistula’s internal opening. It is considered a safe treatment.
Risks of Anal Fistula Surgery
The main risks are infection, fistula recurrence, bowel incontinence, or other infections, depending on your fistula and the specific procedure you have had.
Always consult your doctor if you face any such problem. Depending on your situation, you will get the best advice and most suitable treatment from experts who have experience dealing with anal fistulas. Get in touch with Max Healthcare group and consult the expert doctors there. It is advisable to consult a doctor without delay.