Difference between Fissure and Fistula?

August 23, 2019

Anal Fissure and Fistula can be hard to ignore, particularly with symptoms such as itchiness or pain and bleeding in the rectal area. It is not uncommon for patients to experience symptoms that are indicative of haemorrhoids, but in most cases the anal tissue has actually aggravated to result in fistula or fissure. If you have haemorrhoids, the symptoms can itself be uncomfortable and painful. If you end up developing fissure or fistula, the situation can get much worse.

It goes without saying that a doctor or a medical professional is best suited to diagnose the exact problem you are having. However, it is always helpful if you stay informed yourself. Knowing the similarities and differences between anal fistula and fissures can help you deal with your problem better.

Basic difference

You would be mistaken to think that fistula and fissure are the same. Fissure is a medical term referring to the tearing of the skin, whereas fistula is abnormal tube-like connections or passages between organs.

Generally, fissures can get cured in a few days or few weeks, often without even needing any treatment. They are not known to cause much complication. Contradictory to that, leaving fistulas untreated can result in complications. That is why it is essential to identify the symptoms you are experiencing and avail treatment accordingly.

Causes of fissure v/s causes of fistula

There can be different causes of anal fissures. These include rectum cancer, vaginal childbirth, anal sex, prolonged diarrhoea, etc. In most of the cases, the reason behind fissure occurring is strained bowel movement or continuous constipation. It causes tearing down of the muscles that control the sphincters to the anal canal or inner rectum.

Unlike fissures, anal fistulas aren’t tears. Instead, anal fistula is an abnormal passage that forms from the anal canal to the skin near the anus. With this condition, the canals are connected to the infected glands through tunnels being formed under the skin. Usually, fistulas result from existing or previous abscesses. A single fistula tract can potentially create many openings. Hence, if treatment is not done, one fistula can cause more complex fistula to develop.

Symptoms of fissure v/s symptoms of fistula

Some symptoms commonly associated with anal fissure include pain caused during bowel movement in the anal region. It is usually accompanied by a constant burning or itching sensation in and around the anus along with bloody stool. There are usually visible cracks and tears around the anal region as well.

Anal fistula comes with the symptom of throbbing pain in the anal region, which usually develops to be more painful over a period of time. There might also be redness and swelling around the anus, along with irritation of skin, pus and blood discharge, or even fever at times. Symptoms like these make it uneasy and difficult to sit down for long periods as well.

Treatment options for fistula and fissure

The most effective way to treat anal fistula and fissure is to opt for surgical options that completely cure the condition. Having said that, if the condition is diagnosed early, certain medications such as antibiotics, antipyretics and analgesics can be helpful. The most suitable treatment option can vary from individual to individual. It also depends on the type, location, severity and size of the fissure or fistula. Likewise, the recovery period can vary as well.

These are the conditions that can’t be treated through changes in diet. However, incorporating healthy dietary changes promotes healthy bowel movement. This reduces the risk of diarrhoea or constipation, which might result in fissures. Preventing the condition is always better than curing it. If you notice any symptom of fissure or fistula, get medical attention as soon as possible.