Advanced Surgical Techniques to Treat Benign Anorectal Conditions
Loyola provides truly integrated clinical care for benign anorectal conditions, bringing together specialists in colorectal surgery, female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and others to provide men and women with advanced care in a compassionate environment.
Many people suffer from common conditions that affect the anal area, such as hemorrhoids, fistulas, fissures and warts. Distinguishing these conditions from each other is important because treatment will vary; an incorrect plan of action will prolong suffering and delay cure. Unfortunately, many patients and doctors attribute symptoms of pain, bleeding, itching or lumps to hemorrhoids when in fact another condition may be present. Consultation with a colorectal surgeon is important to arrive at the correct diagnosis and begin the proper treatment.
As part of an academic medical center, Loyola’s expert clinicians perform and teach the latest surgical techniques and medical treatments in numerous locations across the Chicago area. This commitment to advance the field has helped gastrointestinal & GI surgery services at Loyola University Medical Center achieve a national ranking from U.S. News & World Report's 2020-21 Best Hospitals list.
What Benign Anorectal Conditions are Treated at Loyola?
Loyola provides advanced treatment for benign anorectal conditions, including:
- Abscesses and fistulas — Abscesses around the anus can cause a persistent pain, which can be quite severe. This is a form of infection, similar to a boil, that occurs within the anal mucus glands. If the abscess bursts on its own, there will be a release of pus and a decrease in pain. Unfortunately, some patients will be left with a fistula, or tunnel, that connects the inside of the anus to the skin outside. A fistula can cause recurrent abscesses or persistent pus drainage. Once a fistula is present, they generally will not go away on their own, and surgery is necessary. The main goals of surgery are to close the fistula and preserve normal function of the anal sphincter muscles. Sphincter muscles help us control stool so that incontinence, the involuntary loss of stool, does not occur. Our colon and rectal surgeons are highly skilled in treating fistulas while protecting the sphincter muscles, minimizing the risk of incontinence. Learn more about fistulas.
- Anal warts — Warts are caused by a virus known as the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It is considered a form of a sexually transmissible disease and affects both women and men. The virus may lie dormant for years; the presence of a wart does not necessarily mean that the patient was exposed recently.
- Fissures — An anal fissure is a small tear or cut in the lining of the anus and causes severe pain or burning with bowel movements. The pain almost always happens during defecation and may last for hours after the bowel movement. Initial treatment will focus on stool softening and constipation relief, if present. Medications can be used to promote healing, but this approach is not always successful. Occasionally, Botox is used. A persistent fissure may require an operation, usually performed on an outpatient basis. The patient often returns to work in a couple of days, and success rates are high with this surgery.
- Hemorrhoids — Hemorrhoids may be internal or external, or a patient may have both. Internal hemorrhoids cause bleeding or protrude through the anus, but they rarely cause pain. External hemorrhoids may cause anal pain or irritation and may interfere with cleanliness. Small internal hemorrhoids may easily be treated with a technique called rubber-band ligation or medication injections that cause shrinkage. Larger internal hemorrhoids usually require surgery, especially if they begin to protrude. Luckily, surgical options are available. With one technique, the surgeon uses an ultrasound to guide placement of a stitch. This helps the surgeon reduce blood flow to the hemorrhoid while lifting the hemorrhoidal tissue to reduce the protrusion. External hemorrhoids may require surgical removal if the symptoms warrant.
- Pilonidal disease — Pilonidal cysts and abscesses typically occur in the middle lower back just above the buttocks. It is thought to occur because of infection in the hair follicles of the skin and is mostly found in teenagers and young adults. Acute infections can be treated with antibiotics, but many patients will go on to have repetitive infections that interfere with school, work and sports. If this occurs, surgery is generally needed to eliminate the problem.
- Rectal prolapse — The rectum can fall out, or prolapse, through the anus. In women, this may occur as part of a generalized pelvic floor problem in which the vagina, uterus or bladder may prolapse as well. Treatment is tailored to the individual patient, but generally surgery is required to eliminate the problem. Rectal prolapse may be repaired with either an abdominal or rectal approach. The abdominal surgery is easier to recover from, but the prolapse is more likely to occur again. The rectal approach usually has better long-term results and can be performed with laparoscopy.
For all of these conditions, a consultation with a colorectal surgeon will help you understand which option is best for you.
Exceptional Services to Treat Benign Anorectal Conditions
Loyola’s specialists provide diagnosis and treatment of benign anorectal conditions in outstanding, conveniently located facilities. We have multidisciplinary facilities at the Loyola University Medical Center campus, in addition to outpatient services at other locations. We offer the following specialized services to provide you with the most comprehensive care:
- Colon and rectal surgery — Our surgeons are highly skilled in the repair of a wide range of anorectal conditions and maintain seamless communication with our urogynecologists and gastrointestinal specialists.
- Female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery — Our widely known team of urogynecologic surgeons has vast experience with every type of female fistula, pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence.
- Gastroenterology services — Our gastrointestinal (GI) specialists work closely with our urogynecology team to care for patients with anal abscesses and fistulas caused by diverticulitis and other GI conditions.
Ongoing Research to Advance Treatment of Benign Anorectal Conditions
Loyola’s expert clinicians and scientists are actively pursuing new research with a focus on patient-centered outcomes, including studies on:
- Aging and pelvic floor function
- Birth trauma and incontinence
- Botox® injections and urinary incontinence
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Surgery and urinary incontinence
As an academic medical center, Loyola is dedicated to improving future treatments by conducting research on new diagnostics and treatments. Loyola’s patients benefit from research discoveries made here; read about Loyola’s current clinical trials.