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Source: Krames StayWell

Anal Fistula [Infant/Toddler]

The anal canal is the end portion of the intestinal tract. It includes the rectum and anus. Feces normally pass through the anus out of the body. Sometimes an abnormal passageway develops from the anal canal to another organ. This may cause feces to be passed through the vagina, urinary tract, or skin instead of the anus. This condition is called an anal fistula. An anal fistula may be congenital (present at birth). Or it may occur following an anal abscess or infection, trauma to the anal canal, or surgery. An anal fistula may also be due to a disease such as a bowel disorder.

An anal fistula is corrected with surgery. This requires a hospital stay, intravenous (IV) fluids, and antibiotics to prevent infection. The type of surgery depends on the type of fistula. More than one surgery may be required. In certain cases, the child is given a colostomy during the surgery. This creates an opening in the abdomen that lets feces pass through into a bag. The colostomy may be temporary or permanent. Long-term care depends on the type of fistula and success of the surgery. Breastfeeding is encouraged with this condition because human milk is easy to digest.

Home Care:

Medications: The doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection. Follow the doctor’s instructions when giving this medication to your child.

General Care:

  1. Follow your doctor’s instructions on how to care for your child after surgery.

  2. You may be asked to record your child’s bowel movements. This will help your doctor determine future care for your child.

  3. Check your child’s anus for bleeding or signs of infection (see below).

If Your Child Has A Colostomy:

  1. Follow your doctor’s instructions on how to care for your child’s colostomy.

  2. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after caring for the colostomy.

  3. If your child has a gauze covering or dressing over the stoma, change the dressing as soon as it gets soiled. If your child has a pouch, empty it frequently. Ensure that the pouch fits securely. Use the pouch closure approved by your healthcare provider. Avoid using small clips, rubber bands, or anything else that your child could swallow to close the pouch.

  4. Clean the skin around the stoma with soap and warm water and gently pat it dry. Protect the skin with an ointment barrier, as prescribed by your doctor.

  5. Try to prevent your child from pulling on the dressing or pouch.

  6. Monitor the area for signs of infection (see below)

Follow Up

as advised by the doctor or our staff.

Special Notes To Parents:

If you have any concerns about how to care for your child, talk to your doctor.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occurs:

  • Fever greater than 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Abnormal bowel patterns

  • Blood, pus, or foul-smelling mucus from the anus 

  • Signs of infection to any surgical incision site or the anus, such as redness, swelling, or foul-smelling drainage 

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© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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