Hemorrhoids are veins in the anal canal (which extends from the rectum to the opening of the anus), that have become enlarged or swollen due to increase pressure and/or straining.
Hemorrhoids can develop from any increased pressure in the veins in the lower rectum. This traditionally has been associated with a number of factors, including the following:
- Constipation and the extra straining
- Diarrhea and the abrupt expulsion
- Sitting or standing for a long time
- Heavy lifting
- Pregnancy and childbirth
Do you have hemorrhoids?
Signs & symptoms depend on the location of the hemorrhoids. The most common sign of hemorrhoids is rectal bleeding. But because rectal bleeding can occur for other reasons, one should see a physician as soon as possible to rule out more serious conditions or diseases.
Other symptoms can include the following:
- Pressure and/or pain in the anal region
- Protrusion of an internal hemorrhoid through the anus (prolapsed hemorrhoid)
- Itching in the anal region
- Bleeding from the rectal cavity
Internal Hemorrhoids: inside the lower rectum.
External Hemorrhoids: under the skin around the anus.
Both types can be present at the same time (See illustration above). Internal hemorrhoids are further classified based on the degree to which they protrude from the anal canal. Our physician will be able to classify your hemorrhoid condition with a simple medical examination and recommend the appropriate treatment.
What is Infrared Coagulation?
Infrared coagulation, (IRC), is the most modern office treatment for hemorrhoids. It is the preferred method because it is fast, painless, effective, well tolerated by patients and virtually problem free. The physician touches the tip of a small probe to the base of the hemorrhoid and sends out a few short rays of infrared light (about one second). This coagulates the vein above the hemorrhoid causing the hemorrhoid to shrink and recede. Because IRC generates moderate heat and penetrates only a safe depth it typically requires several treatments. The patient may experience a sensation of warmth but it is generally NOT painful.
Why does IRC require multiple treatments?
In contrast to the current surgical procedures, IRC uses gentle, non-invasive, special light wave heat to gradually cut off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid causing it to shrink. This modern procedure does not cause the significant pain, tissue necrosis, sloughing and open tissue areas that the current surgical procedures cause.
How many treatments are required?
Our AHCC physicians evaluate each patient on a case-by-case basis. They will evaluate your condition and determine a treatment schedule that will get you the optimum results based on the severity of your hemorrhoid disease. Most patients require 4 to 8 visits at 4-14 day intervals without missing any work for recovery time.
Answering your questions about the IRC procedure…
What should I expect at my first appointment?
Our AHCC physician will conduct a physical exam including an external and internal anal examination to chart your hemorrhoid disease and to rule out any other obvious diseases responsible for your symptoms. If deemed appropriate and agreeable to the patient, the physician will generally perform your first treatment that day.
Do I need to have any special bowel preparation?
No. IRC requires no enemas, laxatives or special pretreatment preparation, other than your normal daily bath/shower hygiene.
Will I be able to have a normal bowel movement?
Yes. The IRC procedure allows you to continue with your normal day-to-day work and lifestyle. You can continue with your usual activities, even on the day(s) of your treatment(s).
Is the procedure covered by insurance?
Yes. Most insurance companies cover the procedure. We will verify your benefits and coverage for you prior to you coming in for your first visit.
Can I be treated if I am on medication?
In most cases, yes, but you must always inform our AHCC physician of any medication you are taking.