What is anal stenosis?
Anal stenosis is the narrowing of the anal canal that makes it difficult to pass stool and can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
How does anal stenosis occur?
Anal stenosis occurs when the anal muscles, which stretch and contract to regulate the passage of stool, narrow. In most cases, anal stenosis is associated with the formation of scar tissue, which can occur after trauma or hemorrhoid surgery. Other causes can include a birth defect, overuse of laxatives, inflammatory bowel disease, venereal disease, and rectal infection. This condition mainly affects the internal sphincter rather than the external sphincter, which a person can control.
What are the symptoms of anal stenosis?
The symptoms of anal stenosis may appear minor at first, but they can get worse over time. Common symptoms of anal stenosis include:
- Pain during bowel movements
- Stools that are narrow and loose like pellets
- Bright red blood in the stool
It should be noted that Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, can cause anal stenosis-like symptoms.
Sometimes, the symptoms of anal stenosis persist as a result of one or more of the following causes:
- Constipation or straining during bowel movements
- Anorectal tears
- Complications of a surgical procedure, such as removal of hemorrhoids
- Irritation from constant diarrhea
- Rectal infection
Remember that these same symptoms do not lead to anal narrowing, but the accumulation of scar tissue that they produce in the anal is what causes anal stenosis. Scar tissue is not as elastic as healthy muscle tissue, and if it accumulates, it can constrict the anal canal.
Treatment options for anal stenosis include the following:
- Fiber supplements, which help to naturally soften the stool and allow it to pass smoothly.
- Stool softeners, which helps add moisture to the stool.
- Sphincterotomy; a procedure in which the anal internal sphincter is cut to open the anal canal and reduce tension.
- Anoplasty; a procedure performed to relieve anal stenosis. The type of anoplasty can be chosen depending on the size and structure of the stenosis.
What does the recovery period post-stenosis surgery involve?
- Avoid lifting anything heavier than 10 kgs for ten days.
- Showers only, no baths.
- Avoid sitting on the affected area.
- Follow dietary instructions as per your surgeon
- Drink 8 Glasses of water every day.
- Resume taking your medications but check with your doctor before taking any blood thinners or aspirin.