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Alternative Names Return to topAnal abscess; Rectal abscess; Abscess - anorectal
Definition Return to top
An anorectal abscess is a collection of pus in area of the anus and rectum.
Causes Return to top
Common causes include:
Deep rectal abscesses may be caused by intestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease or diverticulitis.
The following factors increase your risk for an anorectal abscess:
The condition may occur in infants and toddlers who are still in diapers and who have a history of anal fissures.
Symptoms Return to top
In infants, the abscess often appears as a swollen, red, tender lump at the edge of the anus. The infant may be fussy from discomfort, but there are generally no other symptoms.
Exams and Tests Return to top
A rectal examination may confirm that you have an anorectal abscess. A proctosigmoidoscopy may be done to rule out other diseases.
Treatment Return to top
Treatment involves surgery to drain the abscess.
Warm sitz baths (sitting in a tub of warm water) may help relieve pain and swelling, and may help make the abscess easier to drain.
Your doctor may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
With prompt treatment, a patient usually does well. Infants and toddlers usually recover very quickly.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you notice a rectal discharge, symptoms of an anorectal abscess develop. You should also call if you have fever, chills, or other new symptoms after being treated for this condition.
Prevention Return to top
Prevention or prompt treatment sexually transmitted diseases may prevent this cause of anorectal abscesses. Use condoms during intercourse, including anal sex, to prevent such infections.
Frequent diaper changes and proper cleaning during diaper changes will help prevent both anal fissures and perianal abscesses in infants and toddlers.Update Date: 7/22/2008 Updated by: Shimul A. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.