Fistula Specialist

Gabriel Akopian, MD -  - General and Colorectal Surgeon

Gabriel Akopian, MD

General and Colorectal Surgeon located in Pasadena, CA

Anal fistulas are an infected tunnel that forms between the skin and anus, usually the result of an abscessed anal gland. These can be painful to the touch and almost always require a quick surgical procedure to begin healing. Gabriel Akopian, MD, is extremely experienced in treating these unpleasant issues promptly at his Pasadena, California, office. Recovery is just a quick visit away, so call the office or make an appointment online today.

Fistula Q & A

What is an anal fistula?

Anal fistulas are basically tunnels of infection that form between the skin and the anus. Usually, the infection starts in an anal gland, where an abscess forms. After draining naturally, or occasionally after being drained surgically, the drainage forms a tunnel to the skin from the gland. The infection will remain in this tunnel and sometimes form further abscesses.

Anal fistulas almost always require surgical correction for their painful and unpleasant symptoms.

What are the symptoms of an anal fistula?

Anal fistulas typically cause the following symptoms:

  • Irritation or redness around the anus
  • Constant throbbing pain that increases when you sit or have a bowel movement
  • Smelly discharge from the anus
  • Pus or blood in the stool
  • High temperature near the anus, especially in cases of abscess
  • Difficulty controlling bowels, in extreme cases

The fistula may even be visible as a small hole or opening next to the anus, but it may be extremely difficult to see yourself.

When should I see a doctor for anal fistulas?

If you experience any of the symptoms of an anal fistula for more than a day or two, you should ask your doctor about it. Fistulas will not recover on their own, but Dr. Akopian can help you fix it relatively quickly.

What causes anal fistulas?

Anal fistulas almost always occur after an abscess in the area drains, usually an abscess in the anal glands. It’s estimated that just under half the people who have anal abscesses will develop a fistula. Some other sources of anal fistulas include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • HIV
  • Complications of surgery

Hidradenitis suppurativa, a skin disease, could also lead to abscesses and scarring around the anus, and occasionally causes fistulas as well.

How are anal fistulas treated?

While surgery is usually required to fix a fistula, the procedures used are quick and minimally invasive. Many people can be treated with a new laser system that Dr. Akopian uses to help fight infection and coagulate and collapse the fistula. This option involves less pain than ever and offers the greatest chance of a scar-free recovery.

Another technique is a simple surgery called a fistulotomy, where a small incision is made in the fistula, and the infection is removed, allowing it to heal into one flat, faint scar.

If you’re worried you may have anal fistulas, or if you have any other questions, call Dr. Akopian’s office today, or make an appointment online to see him in person.