Sphincterotomy

What you should know

A sphincterotomy is surgery to relax your anal sphincter. The anal sphincter is the ring of muscles that form your anus. Your anal sphincter controls the passage of bowel movements.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Risks

  • You may develop an infection or bleed more than expected. You may pass more gas than usual or feel an urge to have a bowel movement. You may have diarrhea or trouble controlling your bowel movements. Your sphincter or other parts of your intestines may be damaged. Scar tissue may form and cause anal stenosis, or narrowing of your anus. You may need another surgery to correct these problems.

  • Without surgery, you may have trouble having bowel movements. The pain and bleeding in your anus may continue. An abnormal opening may form between your anus and nearby organs. Your anus may tear or you may develop extra skin growth. The anal tear may become so deep that your sphincter muscles can be seen.

Getting Ready

Before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.

  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.

  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.

  • You may need blood tests. You may also need an ultrasound or a scope to measure the tightness of your sphincter. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.

The night before your surgery:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.

  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.

Treatment

What will happen:

Your surgeon will either do an open or a closed sphincterotomy. During an open sphincterotomy, he will cut into the skin tissue covering your sphincter. This will allow him to see your sphincter muscles. During a closed sphincterotomy, he will cut the sphincter muscles without cutting through the skin tissue. Your surgeon will use a scope to help him see your sphincter. Once your sphincter is cut, the pressure will be released and the muscles will relax. After your sphincterotomy, your surgeon will either close the cut with stitches or leave it open to heal. Your anus may then be covered with a bandage.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your surgery.

  • You have anal spasms that do not stop.

  • You have a fever.

  • You get a cold or the flu.

  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Your symptoms get worse.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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