An anal fistula is an abnormal tract or tunnel that forms inside the anus. An anal fistula needs proper treatment. If left untreated, it can cause infection in the body.
Here are 8 common questions that everyone needs to know about anal fistula:
- What causes anal fistula?
Anal fistula is one of the most common ano-rectal problems among people of this country. Every year, 50,000 to 1,00,000 people in India suffer from anal fistula.
The most common causes of anal fistula are:
An abscess is the most important cause of anal fistula in people of all age groups. When abscess gets infected and filled with pus near the anus or the rectum, it can lead to anal fistula. When fecal matters and bacterial deposits get clogged in the anal gland, it turns into an abscess. While it is confirmed that abscess can lead to anal fistula, it is not very clear what causes an abscess to form. A person may suffer from fistula even if the anal abscess bursts out.
Anal fistula can be caused due to Crohn’s disease. In this condition, the mucosal lining of the digestive system gets inflamed.
Sexually transmitted diseases can also lead to formation of anal fistula. STDs such as HIV, AIDS or Chlamydia weakens the immune system of the human body and can put the person at the risk of getting an anal fistula.
- What are the symtoms of anal fistula?
The most common symptoms of an abscess are:
- swelling in the anal area
- painful bowel movement
- anorectal pain
- perianal cellulitis accompanied by fever and chills.
Occasionally, a person suffering from fistula can also experience:
- redness in the skin around the anus
- foul smell from the anus
- How can anal fistula be diagnosed?
If you visit a doctor to check your fistula symptoms, the doctor will begin by asking about your medical history. He will recommend you to undergo a physical exam.
Some fistulas can be easily spotted. While there are other fistulas which require detailed tests to be confirmed. Some fistulas grow and close on their own, other fistulas don’t. In that case, the doctor might stick a finger into the patient’s anus and check for other symptoms such as bleeding and oozing of any fluid materials.
Additionally, the doctor might ask you to do some imaging tests like x-rays, CT scans or MRIs. In severe cases, the patient also needs to do a colonoscopy. In this process, the doctor puts a tube attached with a camera and inserts in your anus to get a better visual of your bowel.
- Is anal fistula a serious health condition?
Anal fistula is not a dangerous health condition, but it demands proper and timely treatment. Fistulas can create a lot of discomfort in the anal area and if not treated well, it may cause serious complications for the person. If the fistula is not drained well, it can lead to bacterial infection which may further cause sepsis which can cause the organ to damage.
- Can fistula cause anal cancer?
An anal fistula is a very rare sign of cancer. But, if left untreated for a long time, the fistula can accumulate pus and dirt and can lead to cancer in the long run. On the other hand, in some cases, fistula may also occur as a result of radiation therapy.
- Can anal fistula heal on its own?
- Anal fistulas can never heal on its own. Anal fistulas may not even be permanently treated with medications. Till date, surgery is considered to be the best and the most effective cure for anal fistula.
- What is the best surgical treatment for anal fistula?
Considering the number of benefits, limited side effects, and enormous scope, laser surgery is considered to be the best and the most effective treatment for permanent removal of fistula.
Laser treatment is carried out under the influence of general anesthesia. It takes 30-40 minutes for the surgical treatment to get over. In this process, a laser probe is inserted into the fistula tract with a defined amount of laser energy. The laser energy, when emitted into the tract, destructs the fistula tract allowing it to collapse. The laser surgery has an excellent healing rate compared to any other conventional treatments. The treatment works best for the complex fistulas and there is scope of postoperative incontinence. Since there are no big incisions made int he process, there are no chances of any wounds and injuries in the anal area.
- What are some of the best hospitals for fistula treatment?
In the past few decades, many clinics and hospitals have come up with advanced laser treatment for anal fistula. One such multispecialty chain of clinics and hospitals is Pristyn Care. Pristyn Care houses the top surgeons from all over the country and leverages on state-of-the-art medical technologies to offer seamless surgical experience to every patient who is suffering from anorectal diseases like anal fissure.