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Perirectal Abscess

Also known as a rectal, anal or anorectal abscess


Updated October 02, 2013

Causes of rectal abscess
A perirectal abscess, also known as a rectal, anal or anorectal abscess, is caused by a bacterial infection. As the body attempts to combat the bacteria, white corpuscles and body fluids collect, forming a pus. Rectal abscesses can form near the anal opening, or exist much higher up in the rectum.

Risk factors for rectal abscess
Some people are at greater risk of developing a rectal abscess, including:

  • People with inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease
  • People who have regular anal sex
  • People with diabetes
  • People who have weakened immune systems, including people with HIV, those on certain types of medications, the elderly and the very young. Risk is also greater following a bone marrow transplant, 

Signs and symptoms of rectal abscess
Signs and symptoms include;

  • Painful hard swelling in the anus
  • Red swelling
  • Pus discharging from the swelling
  • Temperature and fever
  • Pain with bowel movements

Treatments for rectal abscess

  • Surgical drainage. This procedure may require a general anesthetic if the abscess is located high up in the rectum.
  • Antibiotics
  • Medication for pain relief
  • Warm baths to assist pain relief, and aid drainage of rectal abscess that are lower down in the anal canal.

Definition of terms of anorectal and perirectal abscesses
Anorectal abscess - an abscess in the anal or rectal area.
Perianal abscess - From the Greek peri- around, and the Latin anus- lower opening of alimentary canal. Therefore a perianal abscess is an abscess in the anal area.


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