Anal fissure

From Academic Kids

An anal fissure is an unnatural crack or tear in the anus, usually extending from the anal opening and the midline of the anus.

Contents

Causes

Most anal fissures are caused by stretching of the anal mucosa beyond its capability. Various causes of this fissure include:

Anal fissures are common in women after childbirth and in infants.

Symptoms

The symptoms of anal fissure include:

Prevention

In infants under one year old, frequent diaper change can prevent anal fissure. For adults, the following can help prevent fissure:

  • Treating constipation by eating food rich in dietary fiber, avoiding caffeine (which can cause dehydration), drinking a lot of water and taking stool softener
  • Treating diarrhea promptly
  • Lubricating the anal canal with petroleum jelly
  • Avoiding straining or prolonged sitting on the toilet
  • Using a moist wipe instead of perfumed and harsh toilet paper.
  • Keeping the anus dry and hygienic.

Treatment

Most anal fissures are shallow or superficial (less than a quarter of inch or 0.64 cm deep). These fissures self-heal within a couple of weeks. While waiting for the fissure to heal, topical or suppository containing anti-inflammatory agents and local anaesthetic can be used. Furthermore, treatment used for hemorrhoid such as eating a high-fiber diet, using stool softener, taking pain killer and sitz bath can help.

Anal fissures in infants usually self-heal without anything more than frequently changing diapers.

Deep fissures, on the other hand, may require surgery. These painful fissures cut through the sphincter muscle thus making it prone to spasm, which exacerbates the fissure and aborts the healing process. Surgical procedures for deep anal fissure include:

  • Internal lateral sphincterotomy or excising a portion of the sphincter
  • Anal dilation or stretching of the anal canal is no longer recommended because of the unacceptably high incidence of fecal incontinence

Despite the high success rate of these surgical procedures (~95%), there are potential side effects, which include: risks from anesthesia, infection, anal leakage or fecal incontinence.

Medications such as nitroglycerine and nifedipine ointments can relax the sphincter muscle, thus allowing the healing to proceed. Botulinum toxin injection can also be used to relax the sphincter muscle.

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