Relaxation of the anal sphincter may be achieved by performing a lateral sphincterotomy. In this procedure, less than a third of the inner anal sphincter is divided at the level of the anal fissure, to provide relief from anal sphincter spasm to allow healing of the fissure. This procedure is called a lateral sphincterotomy and is extremely effective with a success of over 90%. The long-term side effects include incontinence in up to 3% of cases.

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