An anal abscess is a pus-filled pocket located in the spaces around the anus and rectum. An abscess can be found near the surface of the anal opening or deeper in the rectum.
An anal abscess is caused by a bacterial infection. Infection may occur when there is a blockage in one or more of the anal glands that secrete mucous, or from an anal fistula.
Anal absesses are more common in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of an anal abscess include:
Symptoms depend on where the abscess is located. An anal abscess may cause:
Complications of an anal abscess may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. An abscess near the surface of the skin may be visible. A deeper abcsess may require a digital rectal exam. The doctor will feel the inside of your anal canal for any abnormalities.
Imaging tests to look at anorectal structures may include:
Surgical drainage is necessary to treat an anal abscess. The type of procedure depends on its location and depth. It is possible that you may have a drain in the wound for up to 3 weeks to help the healing process.
Antibiotics are generally not necessary, but your doctor may recommend them under certain circumstances. Other medications may include:
To reduce your chance of an anal abscess, be sure to manage any health conditions that increase your risk of infections.
American College of Gastroenterology
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
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Anal abscess/fistula. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.fascrs.org/patients/conditions/anal_abscess_fistula. Updated October 2012. Accessed November 14, 2013.
Anal rectal abscess and fistula. Hemorrhoid website. Available at: http://www.hemorrhoid.net/abscess.php. Accessed November 14, 2013.
Anorectal abscess. John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/digestive_disorders/anorectal_abscess_134,175. Accessed November 14, 2013.
Caliste X, Nazir S, et al. Sensitivity of computed tomography in detection of perirectal abscess. Am Surg. 2011;77(2):166-168.
Schaffzin DM, Wong WD. Surgeon-performed ultrasound: endorectal ultrasound. Surg Clin North Am. 2004;84(4):1127-1149, vii.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.