Anal Fistula Specialist

Moshe Barnajian, MD

Minimally Invasive and Robotic Colorectal
Surgeon based at Cedars Sinai, Los Angeles

An anal fistula is a small tunnel that connects to an abscess near your anus. If you’re experiencing anal irritation, bloody drainage, or anal swelling, contact the practice of Moshe Barnajian, MD, in the Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, for an anal fistula evaluation. Dr. Barnajian provides the latest and most effective anal fistula treatments available in the West Hollywood area. Book your anal fistula exam online, or call to schedule an appointment over the phone today.

Anal Fistula Q & A

What is an anal fistula?

An anal fistula is a very small tunnel that forms when you have an abscess in your anus. This condition occurs when one of the small glands inside your anus that makes mucus becomes clogged. This leads to an infection and ultimately an abscess. Roughly half of these abscesses turn into fistulas. 

Why do anal fistulas form?

Though the most common cause of an anal fistula is a clogged anal gland, other issues can contribute. If you have an anal fistula, it might be associated with:

  • Diverticulitis 
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Sexually transmitted disease

Though less common, in some cases, rectal or anal cancer can increase your risk of developing a fistula, too. 

How does a doctor diagnose an anal fistula?

Usually, Dr. Barnajian can diagnose an anal fistula by examining your anus. He inspects the area, looking for an opening in your skin, so he can determine how deep the tract goes. Dr. Barnajian also gathers detailed information about any fistula-related symptoms you might be experiencing, which may include:

  • Pain, tenderness, and swelling around your anus
  • Bloody drainage from near your anus
  • Anal skin irritation

You may also find that you have pain during bowel movements. If the abscess is severely infected, fever and chills may also occur. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s important to get started on anal fistula treatment as soon as possible. 

What is the treatment for an anal fistula?

Typically surgical correction is necessary when you have an anal fistula. As a board-certified colorectal surgeon, Dr. Barnajian uses the most up-to-date tools and techniques to treat you. 

For a minor-to-moderate anal fistula, Dr. Barnajian might recommend a fistulotomy procedure. This surgery involves making an incision to convert the tunnel into an open groove. By doing so, the fistula tract heals from the deepest layer. 

If you have a more complex anal fistula, placing a drain (seton) into the fistula might be necessary. The seton stays in place for at least six weeks, and then Dr. Barnajian performs a second surgery to make corrections. 

During this second procedure, Dr. Barnajian might perform a fistulotomy, or he can make a flap to close the opening. Dr. Barnajian can also perform a lift procedure, which involves spreading the sphincter muscles slightly and tying off the fistula. But before going into the operating room, Dr. Barnajian counsels you about your surgery, so you know exactly what to expect. 

If an anal fistula is causing you pain and discomfort, contact the office of Moshe Barnajian, MD, for an evaluation. Click on the online scheduling tool, or call to book a visit by phone.