Anal Abscesses & Fistulas Specialist

Rolando Saenz, MD -  - General and Colorectal Surgeon

San Lucas Surgical Associates

Rolando Saenz, MD

General and Colorectal Surgeon located in Downtown, San Antonio, TX

Anal abscesses are painful cavities near your anus or rectum, while fistulas are tunnels under your skin that are often caused by abscesses. Dr. Rolando H. Saenz at San Lucas Surgical Associates in Downtown, San Antonio, Texas, regularly treats patients dealing with both abscesses and fistulas. These can lead to rectal bleeding, swelling, and irritation near the anus. With treatment, Dr. Saenz can restore you to optimal health. If you’re dealing with abscesses or fistulas, call today.

Anal Abscesses & Fistulas Q & A

What are anal abscesses and fistulas?

Anal abscesses are infected, pus-filled cavities typically located around the anus or rectum.  Most of them occur due to infection of the internal glands in the anus. In some cases, bacteria, fecal matter, or other foreign material clogs anal glands and spreads into anal or rectal tissue. There, it can develop into an abscess.

An anal fistula typically follows a previous abscess or develops as a result of an existing anal abscess. If you have abscesses, there’s a nearly 50% chance you’ll develop a fistula. A fistula is a tunnel under your skin that connects clogged, infected glands that can lead to an abscess. Even though the presence of a fistula is commonly tied to abscesses, they can be present with or without abscesses and may just connect to the skin near your anal opening.

What are signs and symptoms of anal abscesses and fistulas?

The most common signs and symptoms of anal abscesses include:

  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Skin redness in and around your anus
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Painful urination
  • Trouble urinating

Since most people with anal fistulas have a history of anal abscesses, many of the symptoms are very similar. Irritation of the skin around the anus is a very common sign of a fistula since they are often the result of drained abscesses.

What causes anal abscesses and fistulas?

Anal abscesses are typically caused by infection of anal glands, and fistulas are generally caused by the existence of abscesses. However, a variety of medications and underlying conditions increase your risk of developing either abscesses or fistulas, including:  

  • AIDS or HIV infection
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diabetes (type 1 or 2)
  • Immune system suppressors
  • Chemotherapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Putting foreign matter into your anus
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

How do you treat anal abscesses and fistulas?

In most cases, Dr. Saenz treats anal abscesses with a surgical drainage procedure. During a drainage, he injects a local anesthetic to make the procedure as painless as possible. Then he makes an incision in your skin near the infected anal glands to drain the pus, which involves removing a small portion of skin and fat. Afterward, he applies gauze and dressing and stitches up the incision.

Treatment for fistulas either involves non-invasive procedures to fill or seal fistulas or surgery to access and repair fistulas. Your individualized treatment plan depends on the specifics of your condition, and the aim is to make sure fistulas don’t recur.

If you suspect you’re dealing with anal abscesses or a past history of abscesses has led to fistulas developing, call today.