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The management of infectious and noninfectious anorectal complications in patients with leukemia.

BACKGROUND: Infectious and noninfectious anorectal complications may occur in patients undergoing therapy for leukemia. Controversy surrounds the treatment of this problem in immunocompromised patients.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective review of the medical records of 83 patients with acute or chronic leukemia in whom anorectal disease developed during inpatient therapy for leukemia was performed to determine the initial signs and symptoms, treatment, and outcomes.

RESULTS: During a 12-year period, 92 patients with anorectal complications were treated. This series included 25 patients with perirectal abscesses, 22 patients with anal fissures, 18 patients with symptomatic external hemorrhoids, 12 patients with perianal ulcerations, 12 patients with symptomatic internal hemorrhoids, and three patients with fistulas in ano. Overall, 79 (86 percent) of the 92 anorectal complications resolved in 68 of the 83 patients. Increasing periods of neutropenia did not adversely affect the resolution of anorectal disease. Thirteen patients (16 percent) required surgical intervention, most commonly secondary to a perirectal abscess. Incision and drainage was necessary in ten (40 percent) of 25 patients with perirectal abscess, which included five patients with fluctuation and five patients in whom infection failed to respond to medical therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Noninfectious anorectal complications in patients with leukemia respond to nonoperative intervention and rarely progress to a life-threatening infection. Nonoperative intervention in the form of systemic antibiotics and sitz baths is successful in the treatment of infectious anorectal complications. Incision and drainage should be performed when fluctuation is present and in patients whose complications fail to respond to medical therapy.

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