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  IN THIS Article
 ::  Introduction
 ::  Case report
 ::  Discussion
 ::  Acknowledgement
 ::  References

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Year : 1987  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 97-8

Ano-rectal abscess with retro-peritoneal spread (a case report).

How to cite this article:
Zaveri J P, Nathani R R, Mathure A B. Ano-rectal abscess with retro-peritoneal spread (a case report). J Postgrad Med 1987;33:97

How to cite this URL:
Zaveri J P, Nathani R R, Mathure A B. Ano-rectal abscess with retro-peritoneal spread (a case report). J Postgrad Med [serial online] 1987 [cited 2023 Feb 6];33:97. Available from:

  ::   Introduction Top

Anorectal abscesses resulting from anal gland infection, are located between the internal sphincter and longitudinal muscle of the rectum as emphasized by Parks.[7] Various forms of the disease i.e. peri-anal, intersphincteric, ischiorectal, submucous and supralevatores are well known. The supralevator abscess is reportedly the least common and most serious. This report deals with a case of anorectal abscess with spread to the retroperitoneal space.

  ::   Case report Top

A 35 year old male patient was admitted with two days' history of progressive pain and swelling in the peri-anal region. On examination, he had local tenderness, erythema and swelling. Temperature was 101F and white blood cells count was 11,300 per cubic mm. The patient had no history of diabetes, blood dyscrasias or any local anorectal pathology in the past. The patient was administered penicillin and chloremphenicol and the abscess was drained under general anaesthesia. Post-operatively, the patient was maintained on antibiotics, packing and irrigation. He remained septic and the infection spread within 12 hours of drainage. The patient complained of vomiting, abdominal distension and pain. X-ray abdomen showed air in the retro-peritoneal space on the left side [Fig. 1] with paralytic ileus. Keeping in mind retroperitoneal spread of anorectal abscess, the retroperitoneum was explored by a lumbar incision. On exploration, there was foul smelling purulent discharge with extensive necrosis of the retroperitoneal tissues. After extensive debridement and local irrigation, the abdomen was closed with a corrugated drain in place. Pus swabs demonstrated E. coli, Pseudomonas and Gram positive spore bearing rods. The patient was given metronidazole arid repeated sittings of hyperbaric oxygen, besides antibiotics. Blood culture in this critically ill patient showed growth of E. coli and Proteus. Antibiotic therapy was modified depending on antibiotic sensitivity report. But the patient had persistent high fever, pancytopenia and sepsis, despite wound care and supportive treatment. Twenty days after the original operation, the patient expired.

  ::   Discussion Top

Suppurative disease of the rectum and peri-rectum is a common clinical problem. Suppuration is usually located below the level of the pubo-rectalis muscle. If not treated during this stage, more than 90% will rupture through the longitudinal muscle and extend trans-sphincterically into one of the infralevator anorectal spaces as the pubo-rectalis sling exerts a strong pressure on the posterior rectal wall at the anorectal ring preventing supralevator extension of abscess. Rarely, a low intermuscular abscess may extend above the level of the pubo-rectalis muscle to form a high intermuscular abscess, which may rupture into one of the supralevator spaces.
The incidence of supralevator abscess varies from zero in Golighers' series[3] of 200 cases to 1.5% in Bevans' series[1] of 184 cases and to 2.45% in Hills' series[5] of 626 cases of anorectal abscesses. However, Goldenberg[2] recently reported an incidence of 7.5% in his series of 400 cases of ano-rectal abscesses attributing low socio-economical status of the patients in the series as the causative factor. Spread of anorectal abscess to the retro-peritoneum is very rare. Lindell et al[6] and Goldenberg[2] in their series of 58 cases and 400 cases respectively have not reported a single case of retroperitoneal extension. Hanley[4] has described one such case in his series of 33 patients of anorectal supralevator abscess. An anorectal abscess with spread restricted to the supralevator spaces in the pelvis, can be drained through the levator muscle, by making an incision through one or both of the fossa ischiorectalis. For potentially lethal spread into the retroperitoneum lumbar incision is required to achieve adequate drainage and irrigation.

  ::   Acknowledgement Top

The authors wish to thank the Dean, Dr. (Mrs.) P. M. Pai for granting permission to publish this case.

  ::   References Top

1.Bevans, D. W. Jr., Westbrook, K. C., Thompson, B. W. and Caldwell, F. T.: Perirectal abscess: a potentially fatal illness. Amer. J. Surg., 126: 765-768, 1973.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Goldenberg, H. S.: Supralevator abscess diagnosis and treatment. Surgery, 91:164-167, 1982.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Goligher, J. C.: In, "Surgery of the Anus, Rectum and Colon". Fourth edition. Bailliere Tindall, London, 1980, pp. 154-162.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Hanley, P. H.: Anorectal supralevator abscess-fistula in ano. Surg. Gynaecol. and Obstet., 148: 899-904, 1979.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Hill, J. R.: Fistulas and fistulous abscesses in the anorectal region: Personal experience in management. Dis. Colon. & Rectum, 10: 421-424, 1967.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Lindell, T. D., Fletcher, W. S. and Krippaehne, W. W.: Anorectal suppurative disease. A retrospective review. Amer. J. Surg., 125: 189-194, 1973.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Parks, A. G.: Pathogenesis and treatment of fistula-in-ano. Brit. Med. J., 1: 463-469, 1961.  Back to cited text no. 7    

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Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
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