We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Fistulotomy?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A fistulotomy is a surgical procedure that is performed to correct anal fistulas. A fistula is a small, sometimes painful channel that splits from the anal cavity, buries within muscle tissue, and emerges through the skin near the anus. The only reliable treatment for fistulas is fistulotomy, and most patients who are diagnosed with the condition eventually need the surgery to prevent major infections and chronic symptoms. During the procedure, a surgeon cuts the channel open, spreads it out flat, scrapes away pus and infected tissue, and sutures it to surrounding muscle tissue to prevent recurrence. Most fistulotomy procedures can be performed in less than an hour in an outpatient surgery center, and the success rate is very high.

Before considering a fistulotomy, a doctor reviews the patient's full medical history to make sure that he or she is a good candidate. People who suffer from Crohn's disease and other irritable bowel disorders typically do not respond well to surgery because their conditions make it tough for tissue to heal afterward. Such patients may be prescribed antibiotics and scheduled for regular checkups to see if their fistula symptoms improve. Most other people who are in generally good health are scheduled for surgeries.

A fistulotomy involves a small amount of cutting and probing into an very tender, inflamed area. Most surgeons suggest that patients receive general anesthesia before their procedures to reduce pain and stress. An anesthesiologist provides sedatives and painkillers about thirty minutes before the surgery begins and monitors vital signs throughout the operation to ensure the patient is comfortable. The sedated patient is usually positioned on his or her stomach with the buttocks slightly elevated. The skin around the anus is then sterilized and prepared for surgery.

A probing device is inserted into the anus and used to locate the internal opening of the fistula. Once the surgeon determines the exact size, location, and path of the fistula, he or she can begin cutting it open with a scalpel or cauterizing tool. Depending on the location, it may be necessary to sever the sphincter muscle wall to gain access. Pus, fecal waste, and remnants of dead and inflamed tissue are carefully scraped out of the fistula. Remaining tissue is often sutured or glued to the sphincter to ensure the fistula does recur.

Following a fistulotomy, topical antibiotics and dressing are applied to prevent bleeding and infection. The patient is brought to a recovery room until the anesthesia wears off. He or she is usually prescribed antibiotics and painkillers and given instructions about caring for surgical wounds at home. A person can expect some discomfort with sitting and bowel movements for about a month during recovery. A follow-up doctor's visit can confirm the procedure was successful and that healing is taking place.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.