CAUSES OF ANAL FISSURE
Fissures are usually caused by trauma to the inner lining of the anus from a bowel movement or other stretching of the anal canal. This can be due to a hard, dry bowel movement or loose, frequent bowel movements. Patients with a tight anal sphincter muscle are more likely to develop anal fissures. Less common causes of fissures include inflammatory bowel disease, anal infections, or tumors.
Anal fissures typically cause a sharp pain that starts with the passage of stool. This pain may last several minutes to a few hours. As a result, many patients may try not to have bowel movements to prevent pain.
Other symptoms include:
Your physician will discuss the benefits and side effects of treatments.
Although most anal fissures do not require surgery, chronic fissures are harder to treat and surgery may be the best option. The goal of surgery is to help the anal sphincter muscle relax which reduces pain and spasms, allowing the fissure to heal. Surgical options include Botulinum toxin (Botox6) injection into the anal sphincter or surgical division of an inner part of the anal sphincter (lateral internal sphincterotomy). Your colon and rectal surgeon will find the best treatment for you and discuss the risks of surgery. Both types of surgery are typically done as same-day outpatient procedures.
Most patients can return to work and go back to daily activities a few days after surgery. Complete healing after both medical and surgical treatments can take 6 to 10 weeks. Even when the pain and bleeding lessen, it is important to maintain good bowel habits and eat a high-fiber diet. Continued hard or loose bowel movements, scarring, or spasm of the internal anal muscle can delay healing. Botox‹B injections are associated with healing of chronic anal fissures in 50% to 80% of patients.
Sphincterotomy is successful in more than 90% of patients. Although uncommon, this procedure may affect the patient’s ability to fully control gas or bowel movements.
Fissures often come back. A fully healed fissure can come back after a hard bowel movement or trauma. Medical problems such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease), infections, or anal tumors can cause symptoms similar to anal fissures. If a fissure does not improve with treatment, it is important to be evaluated for other possible conditions.
CAN ANAL FISSURES LEAD TO COLON CANCER?
Anal fissures do not increase the risk of colon cancer nor cause it. However, more serious conditions can cause similar symptoms. Even when a fissure has healed completely, your colon and rectal surgeon may request other tests. A colonoscopy may be done to rule out other causes of rectal bleeding.