Perianal abscess surgery

An abscess is a painful, swollen area with pus inside. Pus is a yellow or green liquid made by infected tissue.

A perianal abscess is an abscess near the opening of your bottom (anus). The symptoms of a perianal abscess are:

  • pain
  • irritation around your bottom (anus)
  • swelling
  • a pus discharge (a yellow or green liquid coming out of the area)
  • a high temperature (fever)
  • feeling generally unwell

You can get an abscess in an area where there has been a cyst (small lump) for some time, or in an area that is infected.

Often, a small gland just inside the bottom (anus) becomes infected and you get an abscess. Crohn’s disease (a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed) can make these infections more likely. 

Surgery to treat a perianal abscess

We can treat your abscess by draining the pus. Your surgeon talks to you about the planned treatment when you come to our clinic or the emergency department.

You usually have a general anaesthetic in an operating theatre. This is a medicine that makes you sleep and stops you feeling pain during the procedure. 

Your surgeon can check where the abscess is, drain the pus and prevent the abscess from coming back. They make an opening in the skin to relieve the pressure and remove the infected tissue. The surgeon then cleans the area.

Read more about having surgery

Other treatment options

Surgery is often the only way to treat an abscess and remove all the infected tissue.

Sometimes, an abscess can drain by itself without treatment. Your surgeon talks to you about your treatment options.

Risks of surgery for a perianal abscess

Your surgeon talks to you about any risks before asking you to give your permission (consent) for the surgery.

The specific risks for you depend on where you have the abscess.

  • If the abscess involves the anal sphincter muscles (which help you control your bowels), the infection might damage these muscles. You might then have problems with controlling your bowels or farting (passing wind). This could be a temporary problem or a longer-term one.
  • The abscess can become a fistula. This is an abnormal connection, tunnel or several tunnels between the skin on your bottom and the skin near your rectum (where poo leaves your body).
  • The abscess or cyst can return, even after surgery.
  • Other possible complications are bleeding, problems with your wound (such as delayed healing) and scars.

You usually have surgery under a general anaesthetic. A doctor called an anaesthetist talks to you about the risks of having a general anaesthetic before your surgery. 

We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to have surgery, we will ask you to sign a consent form. This says that you agree to have the treatment and understand what it involves.

If you would like more information about our consent process, please speak to a member of staff caring for you.

Resource number: 0910/VER7
Last reviewed: April 2022
Next review due: March 2024

Contact us

If you have any questions, please contact the GI surgical access centre.

Phone: 020 7188 8875 (choose option 3)

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