Medical Q&As

Sphincterotomy - what is it?

I have been diagnosed with anal fissures. None of the conventional medicines have worked and now there is talk of an operation called a sphincterotomy. Can you please tell me more about it?

An anal fissure is a slit in the anal margin, which usually occurs following the passage of a constipated stool. The fissure can be quite sore and this can lead to further constipation due to further stretching of the fissure during defaecation. Sometimes minor bleeding can occur. Many cases of anal fissure heal spontaneously but some persist and may eventually require surgery. Sphincterotomy is performed under a general anaesthetic and only involves a short stay in hospital. It involves the cutting of a portion of one of the muscles within the anal sphincter. This prevents further spasm and pain in the anus and allows the fissure to heal naturally. The pain from the fissure and the sphincterotomy clears within a few days and can be relieved with simple painkillers. The fissure usually heals fully within a few weeks.