An anal fistula is a painful hole going through the delicate tissue of your anal canal. If you’re suffering from anal discomfort or bleeding, Nina Paonessa, DO, of Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC, in Brielle and Manahawkin, New Jersey, can help. Dr. Paonessa is a highly skilled colorectal surgeon who excels in treating anal fistulas, using conservative approaches where possible. She can also perform specialized surgeries such as ligation of the intersphincteric fistula tract (LIFT) where necessary.

Call Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC, to schedule an appointment today.

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What is an anal fistula?

An anal fistula is a tunnel or tract that forms between an infected gland in your anal canal and the skin outside your anus or rectum.

Occasionally, one of the anal glands, which produce mucus, gets clogged or blocked, and infection sets in. The infection and resulting inflammation lead to the development of a perianal or rectal abscess, where a cavity or pocket near your anus or rectum fills with pus.

You might feel the abscess as a hard, painful lump in your anus or rectum. The abscess might look red and sore, and you might also get a fever or chills. Sometimes the abscess ruptures spontaneously.

However, in most cases, if you have an abscess, you need to get Dr. Paonessa to incise it and drain the fluid. Most of the time, she can perform this procedure in the office using a local anesthetic. Draining the abscess usually provides immediate relief. Dr. Paonessa’s practice has a 24-hour policy for patients with an anal abscess so that you can receive treatment in the office for instant results.

Sometimes when an abscess ruptures spontaneously or you have it surgically drained a fistula forms. Approximately 50% of perianal or rectal abscesses develop into an anal fistula.

What are the symptoms of an anal fistula?

If you have an anal fistula, you’ll be aware of pain and swelling around your anus, and you might be able to feel the opening. Through this opening, you get bloody discharge or pus that irritates the skin around your anus. The drainage is usually clear yellow, blood-tinged, or thin brown in color.

You could have some rectal bleeding or pain when you move your bowels. The pain is likely to lessen if the fistula drains. You might also have a fever and chills and feel very fatigued.

How are anal fistulas treated?

Most anal fistulas require surgery. There are a variety of surgical procedures that Dr. Paonessa can perform based upon the type and complexity of your anal fistula. Dr. Paonessa has specialist training and more than 16 years of experience in treating anal fistulas successfully, including complex anal fistulas, with preservation of sphincter function.

Dr. Paonessa uses advanced techniques to treat anal fistulas, including ligation of the intersphincteric fistula tract (LIFT). The LIFT procedure enables Dr. Paonessa to access the fistula without cutting your sphincter muscles.

Call Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery or book online today if you have a painful, swollen lump in the perianal or rectal area, if you suffer from recurrent perianal or rectal abscesses, or you’re experiencing persistent perianal or rectal drainage.