An anorectal abscess is a collection of pus in the area of the anus and rectum.
Common causes of anorectal abscess include:
Deep rectal abscesses may be caused by intestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease or diverticulitis.
The following factors increase your risk for an anorectal abscess:
The condition may occur in infants and toddlers who are still in diapers and who have a history of anal fissures.
Swelling around the anus and a constant, throbbing pain are the most common symptoms. Pain with bowel movements may be severe.
Other symptoms may include:
In infants, the abscess often appears as a swollen, red, tender lump at the edge of the anus. The infant may be fussy and irritable from discomfort, but there are usually no other symptoms.
A rectal examination may confirm that you have an anorectal abscess. A proctosigmoidoscopy may be done to rule out other diseases.
Rarely, you may need a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to determine where the pus collection is located.
The problem rarely goes away on its own. Antibiotics alone usually cannot treat the problem.
Treatment involves surgery to open and drain the abscess.
Drained abscesses are usually left open and there are no stitches.
Your doctor may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics.
You may need stool softeners. Practice good hygiene and eat a soft or liquid diet until the abscess has healed.
With prompt treatment, people with this condition usually do well. Infants and toddlers usually recover very quickly.
Complications tend to occur when treatment is delayed.
Call your health care provider if:
Prevention or prompt treatment of sexually transmitted diseases may prevent this cause of anorectal abscesses. Use condoms during intercourse, including anal sex, to prevent such infections.
Frequent diaper changes and proper cleaning during diaper changes will help prevent both anal fissures and perianal abscesses in infants and toddlers.
Reviewed By: Shabir Bhimji, MD, PhD, Specializing in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.