MBBS FRACS • Upper Gastrointestinal, Advanced Laparoscopic and General Surgery • Perth, Western Australia

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Anal fissures

These are tears or cuts in the anus and anal canal.
They affect both men and women equally.

They may present as acute conditions (occurring in a short period of time) or chronic condition (a condition that has persisted over a considerable length of time).


Untreated fissures develop a hood-like skin tag which covers the fissure and cause discomfort, or pain.
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Anal fissure anatomy


  • Pain on defecation. The pain can be severe enough that patients will try and avoid going to the toilet, thus leading to constipation. It can also lead to some difficulty with urination.
  • Bleeding with bowel motion
  • Itchiness to the bottom
  • Discharge.

Occasionally pus may be discharged from the area.


Anal fissure can be caused by passage of large hard stool or repeated diarrhoea.
Other traumatic causes include insertion of foreign bodies and childbirth.

These are rarer causes of anal fissure:
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Anal cancer
  • Infections – herpes, HIV, Chlamydia.


Anal fissures are often diagnosed based on the history and a direct physical examination. Sometimes the physical examination may be done under general anaesthetic as the pain and elicited tenderness is too severe for the examination otherwise.


General management
  • Avoid constipation. This involves in ensuring that the diet has adequate fibre as well as ensuring adequate hydration. Stool softeners may also be beneficial.
  • Sits bath. This involves soaking the bottom in warm water after bowel movements.
Medical management
  • Topical anaesthetics (e.g. Lignocaine ointment) – Used prior to bowel motion.
  • Steroids – Often combined with topical anaesthetic ointment.
  • Nitrogylcerin ointment.
  • Calcium channel blockers (e.g. Knifepoint ointment).


Surgical management
Botulinum toxin injection:
  • Paralyses the sphincter muscle
  • Effect may be temporary.
Lateral sphincterotomy
A small cut is made into the internal anal sphincter muscle, corresponding to the length of the fissure.

  • 98% healing rate at 2 months.
  • 0–3 % recurrence rate.
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Lateral sphincterotomy


Postoperative management

Clinical Associate Professor Hairul Ahmad MBBS FRACS
Upper Gastrointestinal, Advanced Laparoscopic and General Surgery
Perth, Western Australia
Practice Details

Suite 12, Waikiki Specialist Centre,
221 Willmott Drive, Waikiki WA 6169

Please call (08) 9592 2298 for an appointment.
Fax: (08) 6314 1524
or email us

Office hours

9am–4pm Monday to Friday

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