Anal Abscess Overview

An anal abscess is a collection of pus that develops near the anus. It usually arises as a result of inflammation of small anal glands.

About 50% of patients presenting with anal abscess will develop a complication called a perianal fistula in the long term. A fistula is defined as a tunnel-like communication between the abscess cavity and the skin around the anus.

There are certain risk factors for developing an anal abscess, namely:

  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Use of medication, like corticosteroids

The classical signs and symptoms of an anal abscess include:

  • Pain around the anus, especially when sitting down
  • Discharge of pus
  • Redness and swelling around the affected area
  • Low-grade fever

History taking and physical examination are usually sufficient to set the diagnosis of an anal abscess. Occasionally, the surgeon may ask for a CT or an MRI scan to determine the extent and depth of the inflammatory process.