Anorectal abscess

Definition

An anorectal abscess is a collection of pus in the area of the anus and rectum.

Causes

Common causes of anorectal abscess include:

Deep rectal abscesses may be caused by intestinal disorders such as Crohn disease or diverticulitis.

The following factors increase the risk for an anorectal abscess:

The condition affects men more than women. The condition may occur in infants and toddlers who are still in diapers and who have a history of anal fissures.

Symptoms

Common symptoms are swelling around the anus and a constant, throbbing pain with swelling. Pain may be severe with bowel movements, coughing and sitting.

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. There are usually no other symptoms.

Exams and Tests

A rectal examination may confirm an anorectal abscess. A proctosigmoidoscopy may be done to rule out other diseases.

In rare cases, a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound is needed to locate the collection of pus.

Treatment

The problem rarely goes away on its own. Antibiotics alone usually cannot treat an abscess.

Treatment involves surgery to open and drain the abscess.

Drained abscesses are usually left open and no stitches are needed.

The surgeon may prescribe painkillers and antibiotics.

You may need stool softeners. Practice good hygiene. Eat soft or liquid foods until the abscess has healed.

Outlook (Prognosis)

With prompt treatment, people with this condition usually do well. Infants and toddlers usually recover quickly.

Complications can occur when treatment is delayed.

Possible Complications

Complications of anorectal abscess may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you:

Prevention

Prevention or prompt treatment of STDs may prevent an anorectal abscess from forming. Use condoms during intercourse, including anal sex, to prevent such infections.

In infants and toddlers, frequent diaper changes and proper cleaning during diaper changes can help prevent both anal fissures and abscesses.


Review Date: 5/24/2016
Reviewed By: Mary C. Mancini, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, Shreveport, LA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.