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What is a fistulotomy?

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A fistulotomy is one of several procedures for treating an anal fistula. An anal fistula is an infected cavity filled with pus found near the anus or rectum, according to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

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In performing a fistulotomy, a surgeon cuts the fistula open, scrapes and flushes out the infected tissue, and attempts to repair the area affected by the infected abscess, describes Mayo Clinic. The surgeon repairs the damaged area by flattening the site of the abscess and stitching it shut. The extent of the procedure depends on the severity of the infection, and sometimes the procedure must be performed as a two-stage process. The greatest risk of the procedure is potential damage to the sphincter, which may cause incontinence.

An anal fistula is caused by a bacterial infection in an anal abscess, states the National Health Service. Symptoms of an anal fistula include pain, swelling, redness, fever, rectal bleeding, and urinary symptoms such as difficult or painful urination. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons notes that the success rate of a fistulotomy is very high but the risk of damage to the sphincter is an important factor that the surgeon must consider carefully.

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