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Anal Fistula Treatment in San Jose CA

Often seen in individuals who have experienced an anal abscess or clogged anal gland, an anal fistula is a small tunnel that forms between the infected anal cavity and the skin surrounding the outer tissues of the anus.

Colorectal Surgeon Aaron B. Parrish, MD is board-certified by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. He has extensive experience diagnosing and treating anal fistulas. If you’re experiencing symptoms of an anal fistula in the San Jose area, call Dr. Parrish today to schedule an appointment at (408) 358-2868. Dr. Parrish sees patients in the San Jose communities of Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Cruz, and Campbell.

How an Anal Fistula Forms

When anal glands become clogged, they can lead to infections within the tissues that exist around the anal cavity. Bacteria will continue to collect in the gland until it becomes a larger mass of infected tissue that is known as an anal abscess. If these infections are not treated properly, more and more pressure will build to the point that the body will form an anal fistula in order to expel the infection from the anal gland.

Although a large majority of anal fistulas are the result of anal abscesses, other potential causes can include:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Trauma to the area
  • Radiation exposure (usually from treatments for cancer)

What Are the Symptoms of an Anal Fistula?

Many individuals who are diagnosed with an anal fistula will report significant swelling and redness near the anus in addition to moderate to severe amounts of pain. It is also common for patients to notice bleeding, pain during urination or defecation, and foul-smelling discharge from a hole located near the anus.

It is advised for persons to seek medical care right away if they experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. If a fever is also present, it may be a sign that the infection has worsened considerably, which necessitates more urgent treatment. Ideally, patients will be able to have their anal fistula diagnosed early on to avoid more serious complications and a difficult recovery.

Types of Anal Fistulas

Anal fistulas are classified based on where they form in relation to the anal sphincter complex. These various categories include:

  • Suprasphincteric fistula
  • Superficial fistula
  • Transsphincteric fistula
  • Intersphincteric fistula
  • Extrasphincteric fistula

Anal Fistula Test

Once a patient contacts Dr. Parrish to discuss their abnormal anorectal symptoms, a physical examination is typically given to determine if the fistula is in fact visible on the superficial skin around the anus.

While many cases of an anal fistula will be identifiable to the naked eye, there are many instances in which further testing is required to accurately determine the patient’s condition. Such tests may also be performed to help establish the particular cause of the individual’s anal fistula formation. For example, an individual may be unaware that they suffer from Crohn’s disease until unwanted side effects such as an anal fistula occur.

For additional diagnostic testing, Dr. Parrish may order one or more of the following tests:

  • Ultrasound imaging
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • Anoscopy
  • Blood paneling
  • Colonoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy

Treatment for Anal Fistulas in San Jose, CAtreatment for anal fistulas in san jose, ca

Surgery is often required to effectively treat an anal fistula. This procedure is typically performed by a colon and rectal specialist like Dr. Aaron Parrish who has many years of experience in treating conditions that are specific to this region of the body. It is important for patients to seek care from an experienced colorectal surgeon because inefficiency during surgery could easily result in permanent damage to the anal sphincter muscles, which can lead to problems of urinary incontinence.

If the anal fistula is deemed to be mild, it can often be treated with a fistulotomy. This procedure involves cutting the thin tissue over the tunnel of the fistula. By opening the tunnel, the infection is able to be cleared away from inside the tissues and then proceed to heal naturally over the course of several weeks.

In the case of a severe anal fistula, more complex surgical methods will be needed. Before any procedure is performed, it is best to first drain the fistula using a specialized device called a seton. The seton remains in place for approximately six weeks until the patient is determined to be ready for an operation to repair their anal fistula. Dr. Parrish may recommend the following methods once it is time for surgery:

  • A fistulotomy
  • An advancement flap procedure
  • A lift procedure

Schedule an Appointment in San Jose, CA

If you’re experiencing symptoms of an anal fistula in the San Jose, CA area, contact surgeon Aaron Parrish, MD today to schedule an appointment. Give our Los Gatos office a call at (408) 358-2868. We are just a short drive from San Jose, Santa Clara, Campbell, and Lexington Hills.

Anal Fistula FAQs


What Is A Fistula?

Fistulas are abnormal passageways that connect two organs or vessels that do not usually connect. The most common type of fistula is near the anus.

What Are the Main Causes of an Anal Fistula?

An anal fistula typically occurs when your anal gland has developed a pus-filled infection, otherwise known as abscess. A fistula can also happen as a result of conditions such as Crohn’s disease, or it may happen after radiation therapy for cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of a Fistula?

Pain is a frequent symptom, as well as frequent abscesses, foul-smelling discharge, and painful bowel movements. Skin irritation can also develop due to infections and excess fluid being discharged.

Can a Fistula Heal on Its Own?

In most cases, a fistula will require surgery in order to be cured. However, it’s important to consult with your doctor to understand the severity of your case.

How Serious Is a Fistula?

A fistula can cause a lot of discomfort and may cause serious complications if the condition is left untreated, so it’s important to diagnose it as soon as possible. Some fistulas can cause a bacterial infection, which may lead to sepsis, a dangerous condition that can lead to low blood pressure, organ damage, or even death.