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The bacteriology of anorectal sepsis in a district general hospital has been reviewed to see whether the information gained helped patient management. Forty-six patients with anorectal sepsis were reviewed, underlying fistulas were identified in nine patients (19.5%). Bacteroides species were not routinely subtyped in the department. It was found that isolation of unspecified Bacteroides species was not helpful in identifying those patients with underlying fistulas. Unless subtyping of Bacteroides species is specifically requested, pus from anorectal sepsis should not routinely be sent for bacteriology.