A fistula is any abnormal hollow passageway that connects the anal canal to the perianal skin. A fistulotomy is a procedure in which the passage is opened, the pus is drained and the tissue is given the opportunity to heal.
The surgery can usually be performed in a clinic or surgery unit. You will be given anesthesia and the surgeon will begin by locating the passage with a thin probe. The tract will be opened using cautery and once the contents are drained packing may be inserted.
The doctor will give you post-procedure instructions that you should follow carefully. Although pain will be experienced, you will most likely be on pain medication and be able to resume normal activities. You may be advised to take sitz baths after each bowel movement for a couple of weeks and stool softeners may be suggested to ease straining upon bowel movements.
There are options when it comes to the procedures available to fix an anal fistula such as the LIFT and Hanley Procedures. The doctor will discuss every treatment option with you and determine which surgery will best suit your needs.
Possible complications include bleeding, adverse reaction to anesthesia, recurrence or infection. Contact the doctor if you experience fever, worsening pain or redness/swelling that does not go down.