A fistula is a structure formed to facilitate an abnormal connection between two body parts that are not supposed to be connected. They can be formed between an organ and a blood vessel, two organs or two blood vessels. They are usually caused by injury or surgery.
Fistulas can be of various types depending on the areas they are formed in – anal fistulas, gastrointestinal fistulas, or obstetric fistulas. However, the most common fistulas are gastrointestinal, specifically anal fistulas. These are much more commonly caused due to the clogging of glands in and around the anus, called anal glands, which result in abscesses. Other less frequent causes can be:
· Exposure to radiation
· Trauma or injury
· Crohn’s disease
What are some of the symptoms of fistulas?
Some of the symptoms of fistulas include:
· Pain and swelling around the anal areas
· Abnormal bleeding from the anus
· Development of pus-filled abscesses around the anus
· Leakage of pus which may be bloody or foul-smelling
· Irritated skin in and around the anus
· Fever and chills
· Painful bowel movements or urination
· Diarrhoea or bowel incontinence
If you notice any of these symptoms, do contact us at Smiles Hospital for an evaluation of an anal fistula.
Why should an anal fistula be addressed immediately?
An anal fistula can be treated easily by surgery if addressed on time. While anal fistulas are common, they are also severe. This makes it important to get them addressed immediately by a gastroenterologist who can make an appropriate assessment. The five main reasons you should not ignore a fistula are:
A) Untreated fistulas may result in sepsis
Fistulas usually result from abscesses, which can become infected with infectious bacteria if untreated. These bacteria multiply and may persist, resulting in a condition called sepsis which can lead to low blood pressure, organ failure or even death. Sepsis is difficult to treat and is almost always fatal, with a reported one in five patients experiencing death after a septic shock.
B) Untreated fistulas may develop into cancer
Fistulas do not heal on their own. They become more chronic with time, and this abnormal connection between organs or blood vessels has the probability of turning cancerous. A persistent fistula can lead to primary cancer, an event recorded in 0.1% of all anal fistula cases.
C) Anal fistulas can lead to bowel incontinence if left untreated
Anal fistulas, if left untreated, or even treated at later stages, can lead to permanent bowel incontinence, causing you to lose all sense of control over your bowel movements. This can cause a terrifying decline in quality of life and leave you with more embarrassing problems than you might want to face.
D) Delay in treating fistulas prolongs the recovery
Chronic fistulas become more complicated than they are supposed to be, which will not just cause you to have to deal with pain for a long time but also delay the recovery process. It might also cause more complications when the fistula is treated, delaying wound healing and worsening pain management.
E) Untreated fistulas may cause skin infections
Since fistulas often result in pain, swelling and inflammation of the skin around your anus, a delay in treated fistulas can inflame this delicate skin and cause serious skin infections like cellulitis.
Cellulitis can be extremely painful and worsen your abscess, which may cause a chronic fistula.
How can fistulas be treated?
Fistulas do not heal on their own without treatment. Hence, to avoid serious complications, you should always reach out to an experienced general surgeon who can walk you through the treatment process. They are easy to treat by simple surgical procedures if addressed early on.
Depending upon the severity, your fistula may be easily addressed by a mere in-office procedure if minor. If treated early on, the recovery can be easy, less painful and can prevent the risk of further complications. Hence, if you’re experiencing any fistula symptoms, do not hesitate to request an appointment, where we offer you the best services, including surgery and high-accuracy laser treatment.
Our fistula specialists at Smiles Hospital, like Dr Parmeshwara, have a recurrence rate of merely 3%, which is the lowest in the domain.Seek a consultation today