Anal Abscess

(Anal Rectal Abscess; Anorectal Abscess)

Definition

An anal abscess is a pus-filled pocket located in the spaces around the anus and rectum. An abscess can be found near the surface of the anal opening or deeper in the rectum.

Causes

An anal abscess is caused by a bacterial infection. Infection may occur when there is a blockage in one or more of the anal glands that secrete mucous, or from an anal fistula.
The Anus
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Risk Factors

Anal absesses are more common in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of an anal abscess include:
  • Certain conditions, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Medications that suppress the immune system
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptive anal intercourse

Symptoms

Symptoms depend on where the abscess is located. An anal abscess may cause:
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain and tenderness radiating from the location of the abscess if it is near the surface
  • Lower abdominal pain if it is located deeper in the rectum
  • Redness and swelling—visible with a surface abscess, also occurs in a deep abscess, but cannot be seen
  • Pus drainage
  • Fever
Complications of an anal abscess may include:
  • Anal fistula—abnormal channel between the rectum and the surface of the anal skin leading to the outside
  • Systemic sepsis—serious, life-threatening infection that spreads throughout the body
  • Stool incontinence

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