Review this page for diagnoses, investigations, red flags and top tips related to Anorectal.

A to Z of Anorectal Symptoms

This presentation is one that is generally straightforward to deal with, and effective treatment can usually be offered immediately.

The temptation to make a diagnosis without examination should be resisted – some of the causes (such as perianal abscesses) require urgent attention and others may, rarely, provide something of a surprise (e.g. fistulae, carcinoma).

This is usually severe and distressing. Because of reflex sphincteric spasm, constipation very often follows and increases the pain and suffering further. Adequate examination is also difficult for the same reason and should not be undertaken unless within the practitioner’s scope of practice; a visual inspection does not yield the diagnosis, a rapid referral should be made.

This is a very common presenting complaint and creates a lot of anxiety in the patient. By far the likeliest causes are haemorrhoids or a fissure, but more sinister pathologies should be considered according to the clinical picture, especially in older patients.

Bleeding from anywhere tends to generate a great deal of anxiety. If that bleeding is from the rectum, and the patient is a child, then the stress levels inevitably multiply. So while this is a relatively unusual presentation, it will often present as an ‘urgent’ and typically require much reassurance. Any clinician will have to deal with their own anxiety too – of working within their scope of practice and not overlooking the rare serious cause

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Nursing in Practice Reference is based on the best-selling book Symptom Sorter.

The experts behind Nursing in Practice Reference are Marilyn Eveleigh who is Nursing in Practice’s editorial advisor and a primary care nurse in East Sussex, Dr Keith Hopcroft who is the co-author of Symptom Sorter, a GP in Essex and Pulse editorial advisor and Dr Poppy Freeman, a GP in Camden and also a clinical advisor to Pulse.

For use by healthcare professionals only, working within their scope of professional practice. Nursing in Practice Reference is for clinical guidance only and cannot give definitive diagnostic information. Appropriate referrals should be made following individual practices protocols and employer expectations, locally agreed pathways and national guidelines.