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Our surgeons are well-versed in the surgical management of colorectal conditions, including anorectal abscess. Our patients receive detailed evaluations, treatment recommendations and, when necessary, thorough explanation of their specific surgical procedure. Our highly trained surgeons will also help you understand whether or not the benefits of a surgery outweigh the risks associated with it.
Anorectal abscess, also referred to as perianal abscess or perirectal abscess, is a pus-filled cavity which develops as the result of a bacterial infection in the glands that line the anus or rectum. This condition is known to affect men more often than women. Infants and toddlers who wear soiled diapers for long periods of time are also likely to develop the condition. An anorectal abscess may be superficial (near the anal opening), or it may develop deep within the rectum. The inner lining of the anus has glands and 4-6 crypts, or pockets. If stool becomes clogged in any of these pockets, the glands may become infected with bacteria, leading to the formation of an abscess that causes pain and swelling. An anorectal abscess may also cause considerable damage to the surrounding tissue, and could lead to fecal incontinence in rare cases. People with Crohn’s disease are at a higher risk of developing anorectal abscess. Sometimes, these abscesses occur as a complication of other diseases, such as pelvic inflammatory disease or diverticulitis. Incisional drainage of the abscess is often recommended as a course of treatment.
Superficial anorectal abscesses are treated by draining the cavity. These procedures require an incision and are usually performed under local anesthesia. If the abscess is inaccessible, a general anesthesia may be used. Generally, anorectal abscess surgery is considered to be an outpatient procedure and the patient will be allowed to return home the same day. Sometimes, if the abscess has an exceedingly deep collection of pus, the patient may remain hospitalized until the cavity has been drained completely. Patients should remain on a soft or liquid diet until the healing is complete. Medications, such as stool softeners, painkillers, and antibiotics may also be prescribed. In order to relieve pain and swelling, patients may be advised to take warm baths following surgery.
Both types of surgical procedures are done on an outpatient basis.
Anorectal abscesses are classified into four major types based on their location:
The signs and symptoms of an anorectal abscess include:
Superficial abscesses can cause severe pain but are not associated with fever. Deeper abscesses can cause both fever and pain in the lower abdomen.
Your doctor will diagnose an anorectal abscess through a careful physical and digital rectal examination, which involves the examination of the rectum through the insertion of a gloved and lubricated finger into the anus. The feeling of a tender lump indicates the presence of an abscess. To rule out other conditions, a proctosigmoidoscopy might be necessary, which involves the insertion of a flexible tube with a light source and a camera attached to its end into the anus. When a rare deep abscess is suspected, imaging testing such as a CT, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound scan may be done in order to determine the location and severity of the abscess.
Certain conditions can raise your chances of developing an anorectal abscess. They include:
An anorectal abscess can form as a result of a blockage in the glands present in the lining of the anus. Other causes of anorectal abscess include trauma, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and infected anal fissures. Intestinal disorders, such as diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease, may cause deep rectal abscesses.
Although incision and drainage are the definitive treatment for an anorectal abscess, you may consider certain alternative medicines, under the supervision of your doctor. These include:
You can prevent anorectal abscess by carefully managing other diseases, such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and STDs. The use of condoms during anal intercourse can also help prevent abscesses. Changing diapers frequently and cleaning the anal area properly can prevent both abscesses and fissures in infants and toddlers.
Do you have signs of an anorectal abscess? You can learn more about the treatment of an anorectal abscess by getting in touch with our skilled general surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.