Anal Fistula Treatment in Santa Ana, CA

If you have painful, red swelling around your anus, it’s possible you have an anal fistula. Albert Chung, MD, a double board-certified colorectal surgeon, offers diagnosis and in-office treatment for anal fistulas at his practice in Orange County California. Anal fistulas typically follow untreated infections, so even if your symptoms aren’t caused by a fistula, getting prompt medical attention can relieve your symptoms and prevent more serious conditions from developing. Call (714) 988-8690 for your appointment at our colorectal clinic in Santa Ana today.

What is an Anal Fistula?

An anal fistula is a small tunnel that forms between the skin around the anus and the anal canal. It usually develops as a result of an infection that starts in an anal gland and then spreads to the surrounding tissue. As the infection worsens, a small channel or tunnel is created that connects the infected gland to the skin surface near the anus. This tunnel can fill with pus, causing pain, swelling, and sometimes fever. If left untreated, an anal fistula can lead to further complications such as abscesses, infections, and even bowel incontinence. Treatment typically involves surgery to remove the fistula and prevent it from recurring

What are the Types of Anal Fistulas?

Anal fistulas are classified based on where they form in relation to the anal sphincter complex. These various types include:

  • Suprasphincteric fistula
  • Superficial fistula
  • Transsphincteric fistula
  • Intersphincteric fistula
  • Extrasphincteric fistula

How does an Anal Fistula Form?

When anal glands become clogged, they can lead to infections within the tissues that exist around the anal cavity. Bacteria will continue to collect in the gland until it becomes a larger mass of infected tissue that is known as an anal abscess. If these infections are not treated properly, more and more pressure will build to the point that the body will form an anal fistula in order to expel the infection from the anal gland.

Although a large majority of anal fistulas are the result of anal abscesses, other potential causes can include:

What are the Symptoms of an Anal Fistula?

According to NHS many individuals who are diagnosed with an anal fistula will report significant swelling and redness near the anus in addition to moderate to severe amounts of pain. It is also common for patients to notice bleeding, pain during urination or defecation, and foul-smelling discharge from a hole located near the anus.

It is advised for persons to seek medical care from Dr. Chung right away if they experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. If a fever is also present, it may be a sign that the infection has worsened considerably, which necessitates more urgent treatment. Ideally, patients will be able to have their anal fistula diagnosed early on to avoid more serious complications and a difficult recovery.

How is Anal Fistula Diagnosed?

Once a patient contacts Dr. Chung to discuss their abnormal anorectal symptoms, a physical examination is typically given at our Santa Ana office to determine if the fistula is in fact visible on the superficial skin around the anus.

According to John Hopkins many cases of an anal fistula will be identifiable to the naked eye, there are many instances in which further testing is required to accurately determine the patient’s condition. Such tests may also be performed to help establish the particular cause of the individual’s anal fistula formation. For example, an individual may be unaware that they suffer from Crohn’s disease until unwanted side effects such as an anal fistula occur.

For additional diagnostic testing, Dr. Chung may order one or more of the following tests:

  • Ultrasound imaging
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Anoscopy
  • Blood paneling
  • Colonoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy

How Do You Treat Anal Fistulas?

Surgery is often required to effectively treat an anal fistula. This procedure is typically performed by a colon and rectal specialist like Dr. Chung. It is important for patients to seek care from an experienced colorectal surgeon because inefficiency during surgery could easily result in permanent damage to the anal sphincter muscles, which can lead to problems of urinary incontinence.

If the anal fistula is deemed to be mild, it can often be treated with a fistulotomy. This procedure involves cutting the thin tissue over the tunnel of the fistula. By opening the tunnel, the infection is able to be cleared away from inside the tissues and then proceed to heal naturally over the course of several weeks.

In the case of a severe anal fistula, more complex surgical methods will be needed. Before any procedure is performed, it is best to first drain the fistula using a specialized device called a seton. The seton remains in place for approximately six weeks until the patient is determined to be ready for an operation to repair their anal fistula. Dr. Chung may recommend the following methods once it is time for surgery:

  • A fistulotomy
  • An advancement flap procedure
  • A lift procedure

Schedule an Appointment for Anal Fistula Treatment in Santa Ana, CA

Board-certified proctologist Dr. Chung provides comprehensive care to patients suffering from anal fistula in Santa Ana, CA. To learn more details about these procedures and which one may be best to resolve your individual case, please contact Dr. Chung’s Santa Ana colorectal office at (714) 988-8690 today to schedule an appointment.