Crohn's disease may cause sores, or
ulcers, that tunnel through the intestine and into the surrounding tissue,
often around the anus and rectum. These abnormal tunnels, called
fistulas, are a common complication of Crohn's disease
and may become infected. Crohn's disease can also cause anal fissures, which
are narrow tears that extend from the muscles that control the anus (anal
sphincters) up into the anal canal.
An anal fistula can often be
treated with medicines, though sometimes surgery to repair the fistula may be
needed. Conservative treatment, including antibiotics and medicines to
reduce pain and inflammation, is usually tried before surgery. Surgery for an
anal fistula, which is usually done only in cases of complications such as an
abscess, sometimes results in persistent
Anyone with an unusual anal fistula that does not
respond to conservative treatment should be examined for Crohn's disease, since
a fistula is often the first sign of Crohn's disease. An examination may
include anoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, procedures that allow a doctor
to view the lower rectum and lower large intestine through a viewing scope.
Complete evaluation may require sedation because examination of the area can
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