Fistula Correction/Repair in Illinois
Ready to Consult a GI Physician?Find a Provider
What is fistula repair?
A fistula is an abnormal connection between two structures of the body. Fecal matter is expelled from the body through an external opening called the anus. The anus contains many small glands that can sometimes become blocked and form abscesses, which can further progress into anal fistulas. An anal fistula is a small pathway or tunnel that travels from the gland that is infected to the skin near the anus. The specialists at GI Alliance of Illinois take into account the location, severity, and complexity of the fistula to determine the best type of correction required to not only repair the fistula but to protect the sphincter muscles, preventing fecal incontinence. To request a consultation to learn more about fistula repair in Chicago, IL, Peoria, IL, or Bloomington, IL, contact a GI Alliance of Illinois provider near you.
Who is a good candidate for fistula repair?
Anal fistulae are often caused by anal abscesses or anal glands that have become infected or clogged. Some of the symptoms of an anal fistula include:
- Tenderness, redness
- Pain with bowel movements
- Throbbing pain that increases while sitting
- Skin irritation around the anus
- Discharge of blood or pus
If you are having any of the above symptoms, please contact GI Alliance of Illinois to request a one-on-one consultation to speak with a provider about possible treatment options available for fistulas in Illinois.
How is a fistula diagnosed?
The GI specialists at GI Alliance of Illinois will diagnose a fistula by reviewing your medical history and performing a physical exam. A digital rectal exam (the insertion of a gloved finger through the anal cavity) will allow the gastroenterologist to locate the internal opening of the fistula, and make observations on the sphincter muscles and any branching they may notice. The provider may use other instruments including a fistula probe or a proctoscope to further examine the rectum. In the event of complicated branching or to find the exact positioning of the fistula channels, a provider may request for an ultrasound, MRI scan, or a CT to be performed. If you believe you might need treatment for a possible fistula, please contact a GI Alliance of Illinois provider near you to request a consultation.
How is fistula repair performed?
Anal fistulae vary in size and complexity. Some will only have one opening, while others will branch out with many openings. Due to the proximity to the anus, some fistulae may be connected to the sphincter muscles that control the opening and closing of the anus. Although anal fistulae are often treated through surgery, fistula repair may be first attempted with fibrin glue. This nonsurgical option involves injecting fibrin glue into the opening of the fistula and closing it with stitches. If fibrin glue does not resolve the symptoms of the fistula, surgery will be required. Our GI providers will give you instructions on how to best prepare for your surgical procedure and will recommend that you stop smoking and also fast for 6 hours prior to surgery. To empty your lower bowels, you will be given an enema approximately an hour before the surgery begins. During the anal fistula procedure, you will be placed under general anesthesia to ensure your comfort. There are different types of fistula repairs that your provider may choose depending on the position and complexity of your fistula including:
- Bioprosthetic plug: A cone-shaped plug, made from human tissue, is placed to partially block the internal opening of the fistula and held with a suture allowing for drainage.
- Fistulotomy: the fistula is cut open length-wise to flush out the contents and heals after 1 – 2 months into a flattened scar.
- Advancement flap procedures: Entire fistula tract is removed and tissue is attached over the opening of the fistula. An advancement flap is made from tissue that is removed from the rectum or skin surrounding the anus. Preferred for patients at high risk for incontinence or those having complex fistulas.
- Seton technique: a surgical thread is passed through the fistula and left in place for an extended amount of time (months) or permanently, keeping the fistula tract open and allowing the contents of the tract to drain. Considered for patients whose fistulas interfere with the sphincter muscles and are at risk for incontinence.
It is imperative to discuss any questions or concerns you have regarding fistula repair options with your GI Alliance of Illinois provider to determine the best course of action for the treatment of your fistula.
Are there any risks with fistula repair?
Generally, anal fistula repair surgery is safe and does not have any major risks. However, similar to most surgeries, there are some risks including:
- Narrowing of the anal canal
- Fistula recurrence
- Damage to the sphincter muscles
Since most anal fistulas can only be corrected surgically, is important to contact the GI specialists of GI Alliance of Illinois to find out what steps you need to take to get the proper care needed to treat your anal fistula.
Repair and fix to improve your life
At GI Alliance of Illinois, we know that discussing an issue like an anal fistula can almost be as uncomfortable as the symptoms you are experiencing. Our GI specialists are here to find real solutions to ease your painful symptoms and find the best treatment option available to correct and repair your anal fistula. To request a consultation with a GI Alliance of Illinois specialist and to discuss how a fistula repair might benefit you, contact your nearest Illinois location.
Very professional and personable.
The staff was friendly and efficient. Amy S. was wonderful and caring and remembered details of my issues without digging through notes. She spent enough time with me to develop a plan of action that included my input. She is great!
The staff is always welcoming & professional. PA Amy takes time to listen to my issues, ask questions and offer possible solutions. She orders appropriate diagnostic tests at a convenient location for me. They follow up with results.
Dr.Arndt is an excellent physician who provides great care for his GI patients. His interpersonal skills and ability to explain causes and solutions for conditions in easy to understand terms are fantastic. Thank you for all your great care.
Great doctor. Professional, attentive, and knowledgeable. Feel at ease under his care.