Coagulation for Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids occur when the veins lining the anus and lower rectum become swollen and inflamed. When mild, this condition which may result in itching, pain or bleeding, and can usually be treated at home with conservative treatments and over-the-counter medications. If at-home treatments do not resolve the symptoms or complications occur, additional treatment options are available, including infrared coagulation.
What is Infrared Coagulation?
During infrared coagulation, also known as infrared photocoagulation, a beam of infrared light is applied to the hemorrhoid. The intense heat from the light creates scar tissue, which blocks the flow of blood to the hemorrhoid. Without a blood supply, the hemorrhoid will shrink and fall off, leaving behind scar tissue that helps anchor nearby veins to the wall of the anal canal. Additional treatments are required to address multiple hemorrhoids, as the procedure can only be performed on one vein at a time.
Infrared coagulation is recommended for small to medium hemorrhoids that do not respond to at-home treatments over time. The procedure is reserved for internal hemorrhoids, and is successful in about 70 percent of patients.
What to Expect during Infrared Coagulation
Infrared coagulation is usually done in a doctor’s office. Patients often report feeling heat during the procedure. You may also experience pain. After the procedure, you may feel a sensation of fullness in your abdomen or the need to have a bowel movement.
When you go home, you may have some soreness, discomfort or pain. Sitting in a shallow bath of warm water can relieve this discomfort. You can also take mild pain relievers, although aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided for 4 to 5 days in order to prevent the risk of bleeding. Stool softeners may be recommended to avoid additional discomfort during the healing process.
About 7 to 10 days after infrared coagulation, the treated hemorrhoid should fall off. You will likely notice some slight bleeding when this occurs. This bleeding should stop by itself.
Infrared coagulation is one of many options available to treat hemorrhoids. Your individual case and your doctor’s preferences will factor into whether this is the best treatment option for you. You should also discuss potential risks with your doctor, which may include:
- Pain during the procedure
- Anal bleeding
- Temporary inability to urinate
To learn more about coagulation for hemorrhoids, speak with your colorectal specialist.