An anal fistula is unnatural connection between anal canal and the nearby skin. It can develop as a consequence of abscess in this area. The problem with anal fistulas is that they cannot heal on their own but the patient needs to be operated. Only this way artificial opening can be closed and the problems such as feces leakage or chronic inflammation of the tissue around fistula can be prevented.
Surgical Procedure for Anal Fistula
During the surgery the roof of the fistula is cut which leads to formation of a trench. This trench is left and it spontaneously heals within month or two. Some patients are discharged right after the procedure while others need to be hospitalized for several days.
Prior the operation the patient is advised to quit smoking and if necessary to lose weight. The surgeon has to be familiar with all the medical condition the patients is suffering from. Additionally, the patient needs to report if he/ she takes any medications. Drugs that are taken regularly can interact with specific anesthetics and there can be certain consequences. If a patient is allergic to any drugs he/ she must report this as well. Apart from the previously mentioned, the doctor will perform blood and urine tests and examine the heart and the lungs and establish whether they function properly or there are certain functional difficulties which may interfere in the surgical procedure.
Postoperative Period and Complications
The wound will be covered with sterile dressing. The dressing will absorb eventual blood or yellowish discharge whose presence is normal after this type of operation. The discharge can linger for a few weeks and there is no need for patients to worry except if the discharge becomes abundant and they notice inflammation around the operated area. This may point to infection. Still the patients are administered antibiotics which prevent potential postoperative infections.
Patients can complain about the pain which can intensify during defecation or changing of positions. The pain will eventually withdraw and the patients are helped with painkillers.
Administration of anesthetics can lead to feeling of drowsiness and some people can develop allergic reaction to certain anesthetics.
In some patients complications can be related to already coexisting medical conditions which can influence the process of wound healing.
Patients can also experience unpleasant scaring of the wound. This complication is only aesthetic. Still if the process of scaring affects nearby structures there is a chance of functional problems. Some patients may experience difficulties with urination and they can also suffer from involuntary passing winds. Constipation is another possible complication.
And finally, in some cases fistula may reoccur.