The management of patients with primary chronic anal fissure: a position paper

Tech Coloproctol. 2011 Jun;15(2):135-41. doi: 10.1007/s10151-011-0683-7. Epub 2011 May 3.


Anal fissure is one of the most common and painful proctologic diseases. Its treatment has long been discussed and several different therapeutic options have been proposed. In the last decades, the understanding of its pathophysiology has led to a progressive reduction of invasive and potentially invalidating treatments in favor of conservative treatment based on anal sphincter muscle relaxation. Despite some systematic reviews and an American position statement, there is ongoing debate about the best treatment for anal fissure. This review is aimed at identifying the best treatment option drawing on evidence-based medicine and on the expert advice of 6 colorectal surgeons with extensive experience in this field in order to produce an Italian position statement for anal fissures. While there is little chance of a cure with conservative behavioral therapy, medical treatment with calcium channel blockers, diltiazem and nifepidine or glyceryl trinitrate, had a considerable success rate ranging from 50 to 90%. Use of 0.4% glyceryl trinitrate in standardized fashion seems to have the best results despite a higher percentage of headache, while the use of botulinum toxin had inconsistent results. Nonresponding patients should undergo lateral internal sphincterotomy. The risk of incontinence after this procedure seems to have been overemphasized in the past. Only a carefully selected group of patients, without anal hypertonia, could benefit from anoplasty.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anal Canal / surgery*
  • Botulinum Toxins / therapeutic use
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Fissure in Ano / diagnosis
  • Fissure in Ano / etiology
  • Fissure in Ano / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Nitroglycerin / therapeutic use*
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Botulinum Toxins
  • Nitroglycerin