How do I get treatment

For London Colorectal please telephone:

  • +44 (0) 20 7403 6061

For Gastroenterology please call:

  • +44 (0) 20 7234 2292


Patient Advice following an Anal Fistula Repair

A Fistula is a tract or channel between the skin on the outside and the anal canal (back passage) on the inside. There are many different types of fistulae, from relatively simple ones to more complex ones that have a number of tracks. A fistula is usually the result of a previous abscess in that area which has been drained but has not fully healed, known as a low fistula. This can result in a persistent or intermittent discharge of pus, mucus or blood. If the fistula is high up and runs above the sphincter then it is likely to be due to the lining of bowel being affected by an inflammatory bowel condition, known as Crohn’s Disease. These tend to be more complex and more difficult to treat.

  • Post procedure your consultant will explain the extent of the fistula, as it is not usually possible to know this prior to surgery. It will also be explained the method in which has been used to treat the fistula i.e. laying open of the wound, seton suture in place or whether a fistula plug has been used.
  • It is advisable to continue to take pain relief as prescribed by your consultant especially prior to dressing changes.
  • You may be asked to digitate the wound for the first week following the excision.
  • Your wound may be left open and packed with a dressing known as Aquacel or Kaltostat daily. You can apply a dry dressing if the position of the wound will allow otherwise it may be advisable to apply some sterile gauze over the area and keep in place with your underwear.
  • You may have a Seton suture in place, but this will be explained to you following your surgery. This can remain in place until for several months or until the fistula tract has healed. This suture can be tightened at intervals if the Consultant feels that it is appropriate.
  • It will be arranged by the hospital prior to your discharge for your dressing to be renewed the following day, this can be either at LBH Outpatients Dept or by the practice/district nurse at your GP practice.
  • It is important not to allow yourself to get constipated. You may require laxatives in order to prevent this. Your Consultant will discuss this with you prior to your discharge.
  • It is important to keep the area clean. Avoid washing with perfumed lotions and potions as these can irritate the area. If you have a detachable shower use this to clean the area well, especially prior to any dressing change.
  • You may experience some bleeding from the wound post surgery, this is normal and nothing to worry about. However if the bleeding should become excessive please inform your consultant and seek immediate attention.
  • It is advisable to avoid sitting or walking for long periods at first as this can cause friction.
  • You should avoid swimming until the wound has totally healed as the chlorine can irritate the wound and also you are at risk from picking up an infection.
  • You may find vigorous exercise uncomfortable whilst the wound is healing and therefore should be avoided. Start with gentle walking and build up your activity gradually depending on how the wound is healing.
  • Depending on your job you may be advised to take 1-2 weeks off in order to allow you to recover and also to enable you to have the dressings changed regularly.