Seton Questions

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Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 3/2/2008 9:20 AM (GMT -7)   
My doctor is talking about putting a seton in and I'm REALLY not crazy about the idea. I'm still in school and it's really unimaginable for me to have tubes in my butt and sit through 3 hour classes. I've had drainage tubes before and they cause me so much pain and didn't help at all. So those of you with seton's...are they bad? I've also got a skin tag that became really aggitated last time I had a tube in. It was really big and painful! I really don't want to do all this again, I want to finish this semester so badly. Please tell me everything you know...especially how long before it took you to feel okay. I'm also having an abscess drained surgically too. Thanks!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2005
Total Posts : 722
   Posted 3/2/2008 10:33 AM (GMT -7)   
I have had lots of abscesses and fistulas. I was introduced to my 1st seton last year and I am on my 3rd one now. At 1st I was so freaked out that something was left in my body. (My 1st surgeon did not explain it very well.) I was even afraid to go to the bathroom and get it dirty. I am a germophobe so it really freaked me out. A seton keeps the fistula open so it drains instead of closing and forming abscesses inside the "tunnel". I also had the fistula plug but it failed. I am thinking about trying it again since this fistula seems to be closing around the drain and is not oozing too badly. That may be because I am on remicade now.
It feels wierd at 1st but you get used to it. I have days when it is a little more tender or sore (not sure if you are male or female and I apologize in advance for this stmt.if you are male tongue  ) but during my time of the month, for example, it seems more sore.My drain does rub agst. a skin tag, too and some days it is more painful but if I eat right and don't get constipated, my tags don't bother me too much.
 You can be sore from the abscess surgery but after about 2 weeks, I am back to normal-even working out. The seton doesn't make the surgery worse or more painful, IMO. The fistula is supposed to heal around it. 
I do work part time now-that is really a cleanliness issue for me. I keep a gauze in my butt cheek to absorb any drainage (there is a slight odor from the drainage). I want my sitz bath by the time my day is over and at that point it feels good to soak.
Not sure what else to tell you but feel free to ask more or email me if you have any other questions.
Good luck! :-)
36 year old female. Dx'd and undx'd a few times. Was just redx'd again 04/2007.
History of rectal abscesses and fistulas (28 surgeries including abscess I & D, exploratory surgeries, 2 C-ton drains and 1 fistula plug) Count does not include self bursting abscesses.
1st Remicade infusion 6/5/07.  Lots of joint pain, and a new fistula since the 2nd infusion 6/19.
Praying I'll get better soon so we can have a baby.
Ginger :)

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 3/2/2008 11:12 AM (GMT -7)   
I am sorry you are having to deal with this.  I think Ginger gave you a pretty good idea of what it is like to have a Seton.
Please keep posting as you are supported by so many.

Kitt, Moderator: Anxiety ~ Panic  ~ Crohn's
*~* *~*
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~

Glad Bag
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 699
   Posted 3/6/2008 5:11 PM (GMT -7)   
setons are far better than nothing in the fistula, in my opinion.....they aren't really a "tube" like a drain would be, but more like a rubber band that goes through the hole and keeps it open, if they are put in correctly, there is less discomfort since there is less infection/irritation when they work right.

i have about 8 in my rear right now, i suggest you fight those fistulas head on, they only get worse when left alone, at least for me.
"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together!" - The Beatles

doesn't that just sound cool when you sing it?

Elite Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 10404
   Posted 3/6/2008 11:43 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Malibu,

I hope you find some comfort in Ginger's advice. She talked me through my seton surgery, and I found her insights tremendously helpful. I particularly loved her idea of putting some gauze over the seton to soak up the gloop so you can feel reasonably clean between baths. I find a little wad of toilet paper works just as well.

You might want to invest in some pads, Malibu, to give you a little more security once you've had your surgery. What sort of pad you buy will probably depend on where your seton is and how much it's discharging. I need to wear a super pad because the regular ones seem too short for me, but I know other people here have managed with just a thin panty-liner. I wouldn't buy too many packets of pads until you know exactly what sort is right for you.

Don't be alarmed or depressed if you need bigger pads in the first few days or weeks. The discharge can lessen with time, and you may find that you can wear less protection a few weeks after the surgery, than you did in the initial days.

Malibu, I can understand why you're not crazy about the idea of having the seton, but the best advice I can give you is to give it a go. Remember, if it's too awful, you might be able to have it removed. And most of us here have found that, despite being scared before the surgery and in the first few days afterwards, we adjust quite quickly and have few problems afterwards.

Hang in there - and remember that sometimes scary things need to happen, even when we don't want them to.


Co-Moderator Crohn's Forum.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 2346
   Posted 3/7/2008 10:24 AM (GMT -7)   
A seton is nothing like having a drain tube in for an abscess. A seton is bascially just a big rubberband. I have had mine for a year and a half. I also had an abscess drained and the seton placed at the same time. I was back to exercising in a week. Mine does not bother me at all. I do tuck a folded 4x4 gauze pad in my butt cheek to catch the drainage, so it's not on my skin, but other than that, it is not a problem. It will keep the fistula open so it won't abscess.
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