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An anal fistulotomy is surgery to open and drain an anal fistula, helping the fistula to heal. An anal fistula is a small tunnel (tract) from the anal canal to a hole in the skin near the anus.
Your doctor will give you medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed. You will not feel pain. The doctor will put a lighted tube (anoscope or scope) into the anus. He or she will be able to see the inside of the anus with the scope. Special surgical tools will be guided through the scope into the anus. The doctor will use the surgical tools to make a cut (incision) through one side of the fistula. This will open the fistula so that it can drain and heal from the inside out.
You may have gauze inside the opening of your fistula. The gauze may come out with your first bowel movement after surgery, or your doctor may tell you to remove it 1 day after surgery.
You will probably go home the same day as your surgery. Most people have very little pain after several days. But it usually takes several weeks for the area to completely heal. After the area heals, the fistula will be gone.
You will probably be able to return to work or your normal routine in 1 to 2 weeks.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: January 20, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kenneth Bark MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery
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