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Rectum
Rectum


Definition:

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



Alternative Names:

Anal abscess; Rectal abscess; Abscess - anorectal



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Common causes include:

  • Blocked gland in the area
  • Infection of an anal fissure
  • Sexually transmitted infection

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:

  • Anal sex
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)
  • Weakened immune system

The condition may occur in infants and toddlers who are still in diapers and who have a history of anal fissures.



Symptoms:
  • Constipation (may occur)
  • Discharge of pus from the rectum
  • Fever
  • Lump or nodule , swollen, red, tender at edge of anus
  • Pain associated with bowel movements
  • Painful, hardened tissue

In infants, the abscess often appears as a swollen, red, tender lump at the edge of the anus. The infant may be fussy from discomfort, but there are generally no other symptoms.



Signs and tests:

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



Treatment:

Treatment involves surgery to drain the abscess.

Warm sitz baths (sitting in a tub of warm water) may help relieve pain and swelling, and may help make the abscess easier to drain.

Your doctor may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

With prompt treatment, a patient usually does well. Infants and toddlers usually recover very quickly.



Complications:
  • Anal fistula
  • Body-wide infection
  • Problem keeps coming back (recurrence)
  • Scars


Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you notice a rectal discharge, symptoms of an anorectal abscess develop. You should also call if you have fever, chills, or other new symptoms after being treated for this condition.



Prevention:

Prevention or prompt treatment 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.




Review Date: 7/22/2008
Reviewed By: Shimul A. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein 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. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100