Lateral Anal Sphincterotomy

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This is a common operation used in the treatment of anal fissures which is normally performed under a general anaesthetic. It involves a small cut in part of the muscles around your anal canal
(back passage). This small wound may be stitched (these dissolve and pull out) or left open to heal naturally. The operation relieves the pain associated with a fissure and allows the fissure to

In a very small number of people who undergo this operation, there is a possibility of occasional incontinence of stool or gas afterwards. This is usually minor and does not cause sufficient trouble to warrant any further treatment, but occasionally damage to one of the sphincter muscles can occur as a direct result of the operation and may then require a further operation to correct the
problem. This is extremely rare nowadays.

Washing and Personal Hygiene
You should have a bath the day after your operation and this will soak any dressing out (it may need a little gentle pull). It is quite possible that you may bleed a little in the bath (do not be alarmed – this can make the water look very red!). You will probably find that frequent baths are soothing to the area.

♦ It is important to keep the area clean.
♦ It is important to wash the area each time you open your bowels. You may find that sitting on the edge of the bath and using the shower attachment (if available) is a convenient way of cleaning the area.
♦ You will probably notice a little blood on your stools or on the toilet paper, usually for 7-10 days after the operation. This is to be expected and is nothing to worry about.
♦ After a bowel motion women should remember to wipe front to back, away from the vaginal area.
♦ Once you are back to your normal life, taking a bath every time you open your bowels may become less practical, but you should continue to wash after a bowel action if at all possible for 3-4 weeks after the operation. Wiping with damp cotton wool will suffice.
♦ There are rarely any stitches that need taking out.
♦ It will be more comfortable for you to open your bowels if your stools are soft, so try to eat a high fibre diet and consider taking a mild laxative if your stools are hard.
♦ You may find that you have a minor mucus discharge (slime) from the anus for some time after the operation. A small pad or panty liner will prevent any staining of your pants.

There will be some pain, but this should be easily controlled with painkilling tablets.

General Advice
After a general anaesthetic, you may feel tired, dizzy or weak. You should stay with a relative or friend for the first 24 hours. During the 24 hours following your procedure you should avoid:
♦ Driving or operating a motorised vehicle or equipment.
♦ Signing any legal documents or making important decisions.
♦ Drinking alcoholic drinks.

Whatever type of operation you have had, during the first week to ten days at home you may feel weak, dizzy and a little depressed. We call this ‘post-operative blues’. This will pass, but if the
symptoms persist, please consult your GP for help and advice

Your return to work
The recovery period will vary, but many people feel well enough to return to work after a few days.

Further Information
Colorectal Nurse Specialist 01908 996953

This leaflet is based on one designed by the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland, but has been modified (with permission) by us to reflect local policies. The Association of
Coloproctology web site ( has further information on all aspects of colon and rectal disease. People are unique and the alternatives, risks and benefits will of course vary from person to person.

We hope this leaflet will support the information you have already received from your doctor in enabling you to make an informed decision.