Many patients present to emergency departments with anorectal problems, such as haemorrhoids, anal fissure and pruritis ani. Often, patients with such problems are embarrassed about them or fearful about their potential diagnoses, so practitioners must approach history taking and examination sensitively. They should also have a good understanding of the anatomy of the anorectal area, and be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of relevant conditions. This article provides an overview of the anatomy and physiology of the anorectal area, explains how to undertake anorectal examinations, and describes the signs and symptoms of some common conditions.
In the first of a two-part series, Anthony Summers discusses the signs and symptoms of some common conditions of the anus or rectum, and how they should be assessed