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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.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your surgery:

Your healthcare provider will do either 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 healthcare provider 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 healthcare provider 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. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.

  • Pain medicine may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Bowel movement softeners make it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to prevent constipation.
  • Steroid cream helps relax your anal muscles and decrease pain. The cream is applied inside your anus. Your healthcare provider will teach you how to use this medicine.


  • 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.


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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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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