Anal Fistulas Specialist

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About Anal Fistulas Consultations offered in Merrifield and Fair Oaks, Fairfax, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge and Lansdowne, VA

Anal fistulas most often develop from an anal abscess, creating a tunnel from the anal gland to the outside skin. Surgery is the primary treatment for anal fistulas. The board-certified proctologists, colon, and rectal surgeons at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC, in Fairfax, Fair Oaks, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge, and Lansdowne, Virginia, perform surgery to repair anal fistulas. For expert care, call the office nearest you or schedule an appointment online today.

Anal Fistulas Q & A

What are anal fistulas?

Anal fistulas are abnormal tunnels that run from an anal gland to the skin outside the anus. Anal glands make mucus to moisten stool during a bowel movement. Fecal matter and bacteria may clog the anal glands, creating an anal abscess (pus-filled infection). 

Most anal fistulas develop from an anal abscess. After your doctor drains your anal abscess, a passage remains between the anal gland and skin. If the gland fails to properly heal, the fistula forms. 

What are the symptoms of anal fistulas?

Bloody, foul-smelling drainage is the most common symptom of an anal fistula. They usually only cause pain when pus builds up inside the tunnel. If the outside skin heals, your anal fistula may lead to another anal abscess. 

Anal fistulas won’t heal on their own. If you suspect you may have one, schedule a consultation with the colon and rectal surgeons at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC. They can provide the care you need.

What happens during an anal fistula consultation?

Your provider at FCRS conducts a comprehensive history and physical when you come in for an anal fistula consultation. Your provider reviews your symptoms and medical history and examines your anal area.

They may perform an anoscopy to evaluate your anus and rectum and request an ultrasound or MRI to get images of your anal fistula. 

What are the treatments for anal fistulas?

Surgery is the primary treatment for anal fistulas. The board-certified colon and rectal surgeons at FCRS customize your surgical procedure and review the details at your consultation. 

There are many procedures for treating anal fistulas, including:


In most cases, the surgeons perform a fistulotomy to repair an anal fistula. During this brief outpatient procedure, your surgeon opens the fistula so it can heal from the inside out. 

Filling the fistula

Filling the fistula is a newer treatment for anal fistulas. Your surgeon closes the opening and fills the tunnel with a material your body absorbs over time.

Seton placement

For seton placement, your surgeon places a rubber band (seton) in the fistula, and tightens it over time.

Two-stage procedure

If the anal fistula affects too much of the anal sphincter muscle, the surgeons at FCRS perform a two-stage procedure that includes an endorectal advancement flap and the ligation of the intersphincteric fistula tract (LIFT) procedure.

To get help for your anal fistula, call Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC, or schedule an appointment online today.

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