Infrared photocoagulation (also called
coagulation therapy) is a medical procedure used to treat small- and
medium-sized hemorrhoids. During the procedure, the doctor uses a device that
creates an intense beam of infrared light. Heat created by the infrared light
causes scar tissue, which cuts off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid. The
hemorrhoid dies, and a scar forms on the wall of the anal canal. The scar
tissue holds nearby veins in place so they don't bulge into the anal
Only one hemorrhoid can be treated at a time. Other
hemorrhoids may be treated at 10- to 14-day intervals.
medical procedure may be done with other devices, such as a
laser or electrical current, that also cut off a
hemorrhoid's blood supply.
Infrared photocoagulation is done in a
doctor's office. You may feel heat and some pain during the procedure.
Afterward, you may have a sensation of fullness in the lower abdomen. Or you
may feel as if you need to have a bowel movement.
Bleeding from the anus occurs 7 to 10
days after the procedure, when the hemorrhoid falls off. Bleeding is usually
slight and stops by itself.
Doctors recommend coagulation
therapy in cases where small internal hemorrhoids continue to cause symptoms
after home treatment.
Infrared photocoagulation works for about 7 to 10 out of 10 people who have it. But improvements may not last. And 2 out of 10 people may need surgery.1
Risks of coagulation therapy include:
The success of coagulation
therapy depends largely on the doctor's expertise and your ability to make
changes in daily bowel habits that will make passing stools easier.
Coagulation therapy is expensive. But it costs less than surgery
that requires a hospital stay and time away from work.
doctors have the experience or the equipment needed to do coagulation
therapy. This may help you decide which procedure to choose. Ask your doctor
which procedure he or she has done the most, how many times he or she has done
the procedure, and how satisfied people have been with the outcomes.
Lasers have not been proved to be more effective than other forms of
treatment. Procedures using lasers are much more expensive, take longer, and
may damage surrounding tissue and cause more scarring.
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Reese GE, et al. (2009). Haemorrhoids, search date May 2008. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
March 16, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& Kenneth Bark, MD - Surgery, Colon and Rectal
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