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Identifying the Symptoms of a Rectal Fistula

Recognizing the often painful symptoms of a rectal fistula is the first step toward getting the treatment you need to find relief. Typically caused by an abscess near the anus, a rectal fistula is a narrow channel that can develop in the tissue between the colon and the anal opening, often producing an external opening in the skin near the anus.

After an anal abscess has been drained, a fistula can remain and cause significant pain. The risk for infection remains high as well.

Do the Classifications of Rectal Fistula Determine the Symptoms?

There are five classifications of a rectal fistula, based on its location in relation to the sphincter muscles. But no matter how it is classified, the symptoms of a rectal fistula are fairly consistent, with a hole in the skin near the anus being the most prominent sign that a fistula is present.

Other symptoms include:

  • Anorectal pain
  • Swelling near the anus
  • Redness of the surrounding skin
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fluid discharge

Potential Treatments

If you’ve been diagnosed with a rectal fistula, surgery will most likely be needed. The type of surgery a doctor recommends will depend on where your fistula is located. However, it’s likely that the fistula will be opened so it can heal from the inside out.

Another option involves the injection of fibrin glue into the fistula, with the hope that the channel will heal from the inside without requiring additional surgery.

See the Experts at Tampa General Hospital

If you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of a rectal fistula, the physicians at Tampa General Hospital’s Endoscopy Center can help diagnose the condition and formulate a rectal fistula treatment plan specifically for you. We have an expert team of gastroenterologists, physicians, nurses and even cancer specialists who are standing by to help guide your treatment and provide world-class care. Additionally, we are proud to have been named one of America’s Best Hospitals in Gastroenterology & GI Surgery by U.S. News & World Report in 2020-2021, where we earned the #24 spot. Additionally, we have been recognized as the highest-ranked hospital in Florida for the same specialty. 

To find a gastroenterologist who can diagnose and treat your condition, use Tampa General Hospital’s Physician Finder or call 1-800-833-3627.