Anal Fistulas

An anal fistula is a canal that develops between the interior of the rectum and the outer skin around the anus. It is subcutaneous, meaning it forms underneath the skin. In many cases, a fistula is a single canal, while others can branch out into multiple openings in the skin. Because anal fistulas rarely heal on their own, they tend to require surgery to ensure they are properly treated.

Anal fistula

As you can see, the fistula travels from the anal canal to the exterior skin of the buttocks.

Anal fistula signs and symptoms

Anal fistulas are not hard to detect, as the symptoms are usually fairly obvious. Despite the ease of detection, it is usually wise to seek the care of a professional to receive a proper diagnosis. Anal fistulas do share some symptoms with other conditions, and proper treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis.

Anal fistula symptoms include:

  • Pain and swelling around the anus
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Anal bleeding
  • Smelly or bloody discharge from an opening next to the anus
  • Skin irritation around the anus
  • The above anal fistula symptoms may be accompanied by generalized symptoms, such as chills, fever and fatigue

Anal fistula causes

The majority of anal fistulas are the result of an untreated anal abscess. An anal abscess is an infected cavity in or around the anus or rectum. An anal abscess is generally treated with antibiotics, and in some cases, draining the fluid from the abscess. About 50% of anal abscesses will develop into anal fistulas.

An anal fistula may be prevented with proper treatment of an anal abscess. For this reason, if you experience any symptoms of an anal abscess, it is important to seek professional help. Symptoms of anal abscesses include:

  • Throbbing pain in the anus, made worse by sitting
  • Irritated skin around the anus, including itching and swelling
  • Pus discharge from the anus
  • Pain during bowel movements

Anal fistulas may also arise from other inflammatory conditions of the intestines. These include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Crohn's disease
  • Gonorrhea
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Rectal cancer
  • Diverticulitis

Anal fistula treatment

Because an anal fistula is located underneath the skin, it almost always requires a surgical procedure to ensure it heals properly. At the Colorectal Center Los Angeles, we can use any number of surgical procedures necessary to give you complete relief from anal fistulas.

Learn more »

Rectovaginal fistulas

A rectovaginal fistula is a canal that travels from the anal canal to the vaginal canal. As a result, contents of the lower intestine can leak into the vaginal canal, causing patients to pass gas or stool through the vagina.

A rectovaginal fistula can come from any number of conditions, including IBDs, cancer in the pelvis, injury during childbirth, or complications following surgery in the pelvis.

While rectovaginal fistula symptoms can be traumatizing both mentally and physically, it is important to know that it is easily and commonly treated. The doctors at the Colorectal Center Los Angeles gently encourage you to receive necessary evaluation so you can be freed from the burden of rectovaginal fistulas. For any questions or to set an appointment, please call our office.

Top Colorectal Doctors

Excellent Doctors

Cutting-Edge Facility

State of the Art Facility

Let us help with your insurance

We'll Help With Your Insurance