An anorectal abscess is a localised collection of pus in the anus or rectum, caused by the inflammation of soft tissues surrounding the anal canal. Anorectal abscess is often associated with the formation of a fistula.
An anorectal abscess can result from an infection arising in the tissue lining the anal canal or a fissure (tear in the anal lining), blocked glands in the area, or by sexually transmitted infections. Certain conditions such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, diabetes and HIV/AIDS can increase the risk of developing an anal abscess.
An anorectal abscess can cause swelling and constant, throbbing pain around the anus, and severe pain during bowel movements. Other symptoms include constipation, painful hardened tissue, a swollen lump at the end of the anus, fatigue, fever and chills.
Your physician will diagnose the condition by reviewing your medical history and physical examination. A sigmoidoscope (thin tube attached with a lighted camera) may be used to examine the rectum and end of the colon. Special imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scan, MRI and ultrasound may be needed to determine where the abscess is located.
It is very rare that the problem resolves on its own. Treatment of anorectal abscess involves drainage of the pus by creating an opening in the skin near the anus to relieve the pressure. The surgery is an outpatient procedure performed under local anaesthesia or IV sedation.
After the surgery sitz baths or warm baths are advised to relieve pain, reduce swelling and help the abscess to drain easily. Drained abscesses are left open with no stitches. You may be prescribed antibiotics, pain medications and stool softeners. You will be put on a soft or liquid diet and advised to practice good hygiene to decrease discomfort and help in recovery. Timely treatment can help avoid further complications.