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When patients undergo surgery for the removal of an anal fistula, doctors perform a fistulotomy. Anal fistulas are lesions that originate inside the patient’s anus and extend to the outer skin of the person’s buttocks. The cause of anal fistulas is often an abscess or infection.

Fistulotomy Procedure

Prior to surgery, the patient receives anesthesia and the affected area is prepared with an antiseptic. The surgeon begins the procedure by using a thin probe to explore and identify the tunnel created by the fistula. A special dye may be inserted in the opening of the fistula to help the physician identify where the fistula ends. Next, the physician opens the tunnel of the fistula by making a small cut in a section of the patient’s anal sphincter. To finalize the procedure, the doctor uses packing or a dressing to protect the area; stitches are not typically required. For shallow or small fistulas, a doctor may perform the fistulotomy using local anesthesia as an outpatient procedure in his office. However, if the fistula is larger, the patient may require surgery with general or spinal anesthesia in the hospital.

Risks Involved

When undergoing a fistulotomy, there is a risk of developing the following:

• Bowel incontinence
• Bleeding
• Urination inability or difficulty
• Fistula recurrence
• Infections
• Anesthesia-related problems
• Death (in rare cases)

Negligence and Injury

During fistulotomy procedures, medical malpractice liability can arise in a variety of ways. Errors made by the doctor or any deviations from accepted medical practices for fistulotomies could result in patient injury and the basis for medical malpractice. Additionally, any injury or infection stemming from fistulotomy procedures can create a basis for medical malpractice cases. Lastly, if a patient should develop an infection triggered by his hospital stay after the surgery, this again creates grounds for medical malpractice litigation.

Medical Malpractice

If an individual sustains an injury related to his fistulotomy procedure, and the cause is determined to be medical malpractice or negligence, he may be able to seek damages to compensate him. These damages, sought because of malpractice, depend on various circumstances and can include the following:

• Physical suffering
• Emotional suffering and pain
• Loss or reduction of life enjoyment
• Increased medical expenses
• Wrongful death
• Funeral-related expenses
• Lost future wages or other earnings

Legal Assistance

If an individual thinks that medical malpractice has occurred as it relates to a fistulotomy procedure, it is advisable to retain an attorney with experience in medical malpractice. Experienced medical malpractice attorneys can not only provide a competent evaluation of a person’s case to see if there are grounds for malpractice; they can also provide guidance to help the individual choose the right course of action. Additionally, an experienced attorney can effectively navigate the complex areas of medical malpractice, interface with the physician’s defense attorneys and insurers involved in the case, all while protecting the best interests of his or her client.