Surgical treatments of anal fistula

Written by: Mr Abhay Chopada
Published: | Updated: 20/04/2023
Edited by: Top Doctors®

In this article here below, highly regarded colorectal and general surgeon, Mr Abhay Chopada, provides us with an all-you-need-to-know guide on all things anal fistulas, including the most effective treatment options available for patients who have been diagnosed with anal fistulas


What is an anal fistula?

Anal fistulas most commonly develop as a result of an anal abscess. A fistula is a small tunnel that forms between the bowel and the skin near the anus. The objective of perinatal fistula surgery is the removal of the fistula and the preservation of adequate function of the sphincters, which prevents conditions such as incontinence.


How is an anal fistula treated?

The treatment of perianal anal fistulas is exclusively surgical and should always be entrusted to a specialist, since the decisions made by the surgeon can have a huge impact on the future quality of life of the patient.

The surgeon will have a number of therapeutic options available to approach each case in an individualised manner that is agreed with the patient. In some cases, a radiological examination may be required to help make a surgical decision.

In recent years, perianal fistula surgery has been increasingly oriented toward less invasive surgical procedures that avoid big incisions, which in the past involved long periods of healing. In many cases, the treatment of a fistula requires several procedures.

In the first operation, a surgical grade cord known as a seton is implanted along the fistulous path. This cord is introduced through the fistula tract, joining both ends as a loop. The goal is to consolidate the path of the fistula, prevent new infections, and make it easier to carry out the second surgery. This takes place after two or three months, during which time the patient can live a normal life without restriction.

The technique of definitive surgery depends on the preferences and experience of the surgeon. The use of biological substances to seal the path of the fistula, or the location and section through a minimal surgical incision, are some of the preferred techniques, and both provide a success rate greater than 75 per cent.


What is recovery time like?

A perianal fistula operation does not prevent new fistulas from occurring in the future; there are cases of relapses. Nevertheless, the modern techniques that are much less aggressive mean the patients can face this situation with more optimism than previously.

The main advantage of this operation is that after the surgery, the patient is fully recovered and after a reasonable period of rest with simple after-care treatments, the patient can return to their regular daily routine.

To make an appointment with Mr Abhay Chopada, simply visit his Top Doctors profile today. 

By Mr Abhay Chopada

Mr Abhay Chopada is one of London's leading surgeons specialising in colonic, hernia and gallbladder surgery, as well as operations for anal conditions and the removal of lumps and lesions. He operates from a number of reputable clinics, including the Clementine Churchill Hospital, and has a reputation for compassion and for putting his patients at ease. Mr Chopada has maintained a special interest in healthcare IT over the years and has been at the forefront of helping to implement strategic solutions in the clinical community. He has published several research papers in general surgery and coloproctology, especially in angiogenesis of colon cancer, and through his role as Honorary Senior Lecturer at Imperial College, remains committed to education and training.

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