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Anorectal Disorders: Diagnosis & Treatment

This group of medical disorders pertain specifically to the anus or the rectum. They range from benign to malignant and are fairly common and highly treatable. Here we will explore some of the more common anorectal disorders and their best course of treatment.

Hemorrhoids

These are swollen veins that form in your anus and lower rectum. There are both external and internal hemorrhoids. The primary symptoms of hemorrhoids are:

  • Discomfort
  • Irritation
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding

Diagnosis

If you experience any rectal bleeding, it is a good idea to contact your doctor because this symptom occurs due to other colorectal issues. To properly diagnose hemorrhoids, it requires a physical exam. Additional tests might be run to discern if internal hemorrhoids are the cause of anal bleeding.

Treatment

Hemorrhoids often go away on their own. When they persist, there are several effective treatment options available. Certain lifestyle changes can also make a difference. In severe cases, surgery might be recommended.

Anal Fissures

This is characterized by a small tear that lines the anus. They typically occur as the result of passing large or hard stools. Symptoms include:

  • Pain During or After a Bowel Movement
  • Bleeding During or After a Bowel Movement
  • A Visible tear in the Skin around the Anus

Diagnosis

There are certain risk factors associated with anal fissures including childbirth, constipation, and Crohn’s disease. Typically, a physical exam is all that is needed to diagnose an anal fissure.

Treatment

With proper care, anal fissures heal within a few weeks. Nonsurgical treatments include topical creams or nitroglycerin application. In the event that an anal fissure is chronic and does not heal, surgery might be recommended in the form of a lateral internal sphincterotomy.

Anal Fistulas

This is a small tunnel that connects an abscess within the anus to an opening in the skin around the anus. This occurs when glands within the anus become clogged and infected. Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Bloody or Pus-Like Drainage
  • Irritation of the Skin around the Anus

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your medical history and give you a physical exam. An X-ray, CT scan, or colonoscopy might be necessary to achieve an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment

A simple outpatient surgery is performed to treat an anal fistula. Depending on the location and severity of the fistula, your doctor may need to drain the fluid prior to the surgery.

Fecal Incontinence

The loss of bowel control that causes the unexpected passing of stool. Fecal incontinence is not a disease, but generally a symptom of a larger issue. It can be the result of an injury, disease, as well as general aging.

Diagnosis

In addition to a physical exam, you will be asked about your condition as well as your medical history. From there, your doctor will order various tests in order to determine the precise cause of the incontinence.

Treatment

Treatment varies depending on the cause; however, developing a bowel management program and implementing certain exercises can help. Surgery is also an option and will be explored as necessary