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

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 but most most people with a perianal abscess do not have Crohn's disease.

Surgery to treat a perianal abscess

You will be reviewed by the surgical team and assessed by an anaesthetist before surgery. They will discuss your general health and any risks that may be involved. Please ask any questions if you are uncertain about anything. 

The surgery does not take long and is often performed as a day case. This means that you can come to hospital, have your operation and leave on the same day. 

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 will examine where the abscess is, drain the pus and clean 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, or be very small and not need any surgery. Your surgeon talks to you about your treatment options.

Risks of surgery for a perianal abscess

Most people recover well after a perianal abscess drainage with no complications.

In a small number of people the abscess may return. This is more common if a fistula is present. An anal fistula is a connection or tunnel that develops between the bowel (anal canal) and the skin of the anus (bottom).

Other complications include:

  • bleeding
  • problems with your wound (including delayed healing and wound infection)
  • scars

If the abscess and/or fistula involve the anal sphincter muscles, this can cause a temporary change to how you control your bowel movements, including holding in wind. This is almost always temporary and draining the abscess is the best was to reduce any chance of this. 

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
Published date: December 2022
Review date: December 2025

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

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

Phone: 020 7188 8875 (option 2)

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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