published Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Ask A Doctor: I had surgery for an abscess, and am now having drainage from the area. What is it?

By Dr. Eric Nelson

Q: I had surgery for an abscess near my anus and am now having drainage from the area. What is it?

A: The cause of abscesses near the anus is almost always glands inside the anus that get infected. The infection tracks to the skin around the anus, and the tract is called a fistula. Sometimes draining the abscess is all that is needed, as the fistula can heal. In other cases, the abscess will recur, or chronic drainage from the fistula will occur. These cases require surgical treatment. If a minimal amount of the anal sphincter muscles are involved, the fistula can be opened and allowed to heal from the inside out. If the fistula goes around more of the sphincter muscles, a variety of more complex surgical procedures may be required to heal the fistula without causing incontinence. It is important to treat fistulas because they can lead to other problems including abscesses, itching and, rarely, cancer.

— Dr. Eric Nelson, University Surgical Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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