Side effects of fistula surgery

Anal Fistula does not do go away with antibiotics. The only treatment is surgery to repair your anorectal tissues. The aim of the surgery is to either close the fistula channel or remove it. Of course there are various surgical ways to treat anal fistula. Therefore, you must consider all treatment options and choose the treatment with no side-effects and high success rate. Failing to choose the right method to treatment can lead to certain side effects.

There are two ways to treat fistula – open surgery and laser surgery. Nowadays, laser surgery is preferable over open traditional surgery to treat fistula. There are side-effects of open surgery.

Also Read: Key Differences Between Piles, Fissure, and Fistula


Here are 10 side-effects of Fistula Operation in Traditional Way (Open surgery)

  • Long incision to treat fistula

In open surgery for fistula, the surgeon makes a long incision to cut open the fistula tract and remove infectious tissues. The surgeons use stitches to close the incision which can lead to side-effects later. These incisions can be painful post-surgery.

  • Bowel incontinence

Anal fistula surgery can potentially damage the anal sphincter muscles. These sphincter muscles are responsible for tightening around the anus to control bowel movements. The strength of the muscle is compromised if they are damaged. This leads to bowel incontinence.

  • Infection

In open fistula operation, the risk of infection definitely exists. Proper cleaning of wounds and essential care is important. As the incision is in the skin, the infection may spread to the fistula tract through the body. Therefore, infection is the most common side effect of fistula operation. 

Sometimes medication treats the infection or sometimes another surgery becomes important to treat fistula. Whereas, in laser surgery, there is no risk of infection as it is a minimally invasive, no cut no wound surgery.

  • Fistula Recurrence

If you undergo traditional fistula surgery, there are high chances of recurrence. If the opening does not close properly or infection occurs which remains untreated,  it can lead to a recurrence of the fistula.

  • Bowel Blockage or Obstruction

There may be adhesion in the sphincter muscles after the fistula surgery. This can cause bowel blockage which may need another surgery. 

  • Gas Incontinence

Part of the sphincter includes an involuntary muscle that is responsible for keeping gas and liquid from passing out of the rectum. If this sphincter muscle gets disturbed during a fistulotomy, a person may no longer be able to control the passage of gas. 

  • Prolonged hospitalization

With open surgery, the patient may have to stay for 2-3 day in case of open surgery. The doctors diagnose the patient’s bowel movements and make sure if he/she is able to stand on their own. This takes some time. Even incisions, risk of infection and other complications are more in case of open surgery. 

  • Long recovery time

Soreness and difficulty sitting are some common problems after open surgery for fistula. It is important for the patient to follow post surgery instructions otherwise the recovery may take longer. 

  • Bleeding after surgery

Even slight movement after surgery can lead to bleeding by hindering stitches. If the surgical wound is not closed properly, it can cause bleeding. It can also be a side-effect of medication after surgery. Therefore, after care is equally important and must be under the surveillance of the medical staff. 

  • Scarring on the skin

Unlike laser surgery, the stitches result in scarring. Although one cannot see the scarring but open surgery leaves mark after the stitches are gone. 

Reasons to Consider Laser Surgery for Fistula

In laser surgery, the diode laser probes to close the fistula tracts. There is no cut, less pain and no bleeding in laser surgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure and is a promising treatment for fistula. The process ablates the tissue and shuts or seals the fistula tract. 

  • There is no incontinence as the treatment is able to spare sphincter muscle
  • Post-surgery infection is negligible as there are no cuts and no stitches
  • No hospitalization is needed as it is a 30 minute procedure and patients can go home the same day
  • No scarring
  • Patients can resume normal activity in 2-3 days but must avoid strenuous work

Also Read: 10 Precautions To Be Taken After Fistula Surgery

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